Loyal Wingman is the first AI fighter jet

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The unmanned aircraft industry is witnessing a rapid development and growth, and many countries of the world compete in the market for that industry, especially in the security and military field, as this type of aircraft imposed itself as an effective multi-mission weapon in war battles, and many military manufacturing companies began to turn to manufacture and develop “Drones”, after they have proven their high efficiency and low cost.


The American aerospace company, Boeing, recently announced that the Royal Australian Air Force squadrons have received a new batch of autonomous aircraft that adopt artificial intelligence technology and are tasked with carrying out military air missions.


The modern drone, named “Loyal Wingman”, is one of three prototypes that came as a result of a cooperation program between the American company “Boeing” and the Australian government, in favor of the advanced development program of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), which aims to produce a drone. Jet-powered can participate in war operations alongside manned and unmanned fighters, in addition to intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions, and quickly switch between these roles.


“Loyal Wingman” is the first aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years, said “Scott Morrison”, Australian Prime Minister, stressing that “it will be a critical axis that will contribute to exploring the capabilities of the Royal Australian Air Force to protect our nation and its allies in the region.” the future”.

Protecting higher-value combat aircraft

Morrison emphasized that the biggest contribution of the drone is to protect the most expensive combat aircraft in the country, such as the F-35 stealth fighters, and to protect the lives of future pilots.
Morrison said the program has helped support about 100 high-tech jobs in Australia, and such projects will be crucial to boost growth and support jobs.
Boeing says the project represents its largest investment in drones outside the United States, although no specific figures have been provided. The program is described as exportable “.
Boeing first announced plans for the modern drone at an airshow in Melbourne.
“Christine Robertson”, vice president and general manager of autonomous systems at Boeing Defense and Space, said that this plane was a “force multiplier”, but it had not yet undergone a flight test with the Royal Australian Air Force.
“We are looking forward to introducing the aircraft to flight tests and proving the concept of an unmanned team,” she added.


A model for ongoing developments

As for the commander of the Royal Australian Air Force, Marshal “Mel Hopfield”, he said that the project is a major example of developments taking place with industry partners across Australia, which illustrates the importance of the relationship between the Air Force, Boeing Australia and the defence industry more broadly.


In terms of technical specifications, the aircraft will rely on the ATS system, which is being developed for the global defence market and uses artificial intelligence technology to give autonomous aircraft greater capabilities and greater efficiency in carrying out the military tasks assigned to them, just like conventional warplanes.


This autonomous aircraft, which will continue to be tested until the end of this year, has a strong performance that makes it similar to conventional manned air fighters, as it is supported by artificial intelligence technology, and it will be able to fly non-stop for a distance exceeding 2,300 miles (approximately 3,700 km), independently, while maintaining a safe distance with other aircraft.The development of the prototype was supported by an investment of 40 million Australian dollars, equivalent to approximately 26 million US dollars from the federal government.


The length of the “Boeing” drone, which is scheduled to be put up for sale in the global market after passing the tests, is about 11.7 meters. It employs the latest digital engineering systems and advanced composite materials and is equipped with sensors that can be modified according to needs and demands.

Ikram Ben dalla (Researcher in Military Affairs)

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