The government will invest a further $115 million in the Boeing Loyal Wingman program to continue developing the Australian-designed and built aircraft.
CAPTION: The Boeing Australia Airpower Teaming System Loyal Wingman lands at the end of its first flight at Woomera, South Australia. Photographer unnamed.
This will see Australia acquire three additional aircraft to help develop teaming tactics with our crewed platforms.
Acting Minister for Defence Marise Payne said the extra aircraft were ordered after the first Loyal Wingman completed its inaugural flight over the weekend, taking off and landing at the Woomera Range Complex, South Australia.
“The Loyal Wingman program is testament to the ingenuity of Australia’s defence industry,” Minister Payne said.
“Air Force and Boeing are delivering world-leading, cutting-edge capability that will help protect and support Australia’s most valuable Defence aircraft, and the pilots who fly them.
“The first test flight, on Saturday 27 February 2021, marks the first time an Australian-designed and built military combat aircraft has performed an inaugural flight in Australia for more than 50 years.”
The government has already invested up to $40 million in the program, which will help Defence understand the interplay between piloted and unmanned air-team systems and how they can contribute to Australia’s defence and national security objectives.
“Our experience with the Loyal Wingman program so far has allowed this Government to confidently support the next stage of development,” Minister Payne said
“This program is Australian innovation at its finest and presents Australia and our partners with opportunities for critical capabilities to fight emerging global threats.”
Loyal Wingman will have a range of more than 3700 kilometres, helping to project power forward while keeping crewed capabilities out of harm’s way.
The additional investment will ensure ongoing support of the current workforce and increased footprint in areas including advanced mission system software development, high-technology aircraft manufacturing and unmanned aircraft flight testing.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said further investment in Loyal Wingman would deliver an increase in the advanced mission capabilities of the aircraft.
“Here is another high-flying example of how we are backing our local defence industry base, supporting and creating jobs in a range of high-technology areas.
“We are very excited about the export potential of the Loyal Wingman.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This order of three aircraft doubles the fleet (I saw somewhere). But, if the first three aircraft and all the design, development and research that went into them amounted to a $40million investment and the second three cost $115million – there has to be something (or a lot of somethings) we’re not being told about.