Loyal Wingman: a revolution in combat aviation or bluffing?


Successor of tradition



The Royal Australian Air Force is a formidable and numerous regional player with dozens of aircraft of various classes. War base aviation - various versions of F / A-18, including the modern Super Hornet fighter-bomber. The main hope of the Australian Air Force in the foreseeable future will be F-35A. The first of these aircraft made its first flight on September 29, 2014 at the factory airport of the Forthe Worth Lockheed Martin corporation; in all, Australia received more than 20 such aircraft out of 72 ordered.

As you can see, the potential of the Australian Air Force is completely dependent on the United States. This has not always been the case. For example, during World War II, Australia released the conditionally “national” CAC Boomerang fighter.

We can say that now the country has decided to regain its lost ground, but within the framework of the new realities of modern globalization. On May 5, 2020, the first prototype of the Loyal Wingman unmanned aerial vehicle was rolled out at a Boeing Australia enterprise. Boeing Australia itself is the largest division of Boeing outside the United States. It was founded in 2002 on the basis of De Havilland Australia: the company controls numerous subsidiaries, combining and coordinating the activities of the transatlantic corporation in Australia. The number of employees as of 2019 is 3000.


Obviously, the development of its own defense industry is an extremely important issue for Australia. However, Loyal Wingman is interesting for a different reason: it is potentially one of the most revolutionary combat aircraft of the future. Recall that it is being created as part of the Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program in the interests of the Australian Air Force. The project is funded by Boeing Corporation and the Australian Government.

Development would not have been possible without the participation of the American side: it is based on concepts developed by specialists from Phantom Works, a special Boeing research group working in promising areas. True, the Australians hope to establish in their homeland a full production cycle of UAVs with the possibility of exporting the device to other countries. If Loyal Wingman manages to "wedge" into the narrow military aviation market, this in itself can be considered a great success for Boeing Australia.

Technical aspect


Subsonic drone is the basis of the so-called Boeing Airpower Teaming System - a bunch of combat aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. The latter should receive commands from the pilots and operate in a semi-autonomous mode. De facto, this is a cross between modern UAVs of the MQ-9 type and hypothetical combat drones operating on the basis of neural networks and making independent decisions.

Loyal Wingman is a fairly large device. Its length is 11 meters and a width of 11,7 meters. It has one jet engine. The main design feature of the UAV can be called the modular principle: depending on the nature of the task, the device will be able to take various loads. First of all, most likely, we are talking about various sensors that can detect and identify the enemy. In the future, the device may receive its own weapons.


It is important to say that with a declared range of 3700 kilometers (probably a ferry), Loyal Wingman will be able to accompany manned fighters throughout the flight, regardless of the nature of the combat mission. Among the stated goals are reconnaissance, strike missions, jamming and so on. In general, it is multifunctionality that underlies the prospective UAV. At the same time, it will be possible to use a variety of platforms for him. As the bmpd military blog notes, it can be both F-35A and F / A-18F combat fighters, and EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft, as well as Boeing P-8A patrol aircraft and Boeing E-7A Wedgetail early warning radar aircraft.

As for the timing, it is very difficult to say something specific. Innovation of development can shift the adoption of the complex into service indefinitely. It is known, however, that they want to conduct ground tests this year, and shortly after them the first flight of the device is expected. In total, three flight prototypes of Loyal Wingman are involved in the tests. The tests will be conducted at the Woomera rocket and space range in South Australia.

“No panic, I'm close”


There is almost no doubt that the concept of an unmanned slave will receive a ticket to life. In addition to stealth technology and the so-called "weapons on new physical principles ”(for example, combat lasers), this is the only opportunity to dramatically increase the combat potential of the air force. You can, of course, immediately begin to develop the above-mentioned "full-fledged" autonomous drones - UAVs that can independently decide on the use of weapons. But this immediately raises several inconvenient political, moral and ethical issues. For example, how to protect the device from interception by the enemy? And can artificial intelligence be entrusted with the right to decide who lives and who dies? At the same time, an unmanned wingman is always (or almost always) in the pilot's field of vision, who “intuitively” senses the situation and can give the UAV correct instructions. First, it will be reconnaissance and guidance, and then - attacks on ground targets and, possibly, participation in rare air battles.


Strictly speaking, Loyal Wingman will not necessarily be the first. On March 5, 2019, at the test site in Arizona, Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems, along with the U.S. Air Force research laboratory, conducted the first flight of the unmanned XQ-58A Valkyrie technology demonstrator. He is seen as an unmanned aerial follower for the F-35 and F-22 Raptor fighters, as well as a number of other winged vehicles. The device is similar to Loyal Wingman in size: it has a length of 9,1 meters with a wingspan of 8,2 meters.

The path to creating such a combat complex is long and thorny. This was confirmed by the accident that happened last fall during the third flight of the XQ-58A. Then, recall, during landing in a strong wind, the device received damage. There is almost no doubt that this will not have a radical effect on UAV tests: in January of this year, Kratos resumed testing the technology demonstrator. “We are very pleased with the results of the fourth flight test,” the US Air Force research laboratory said then.


In addition to Australia and the USA, other countries decided to take this path. So, at the last year's exhibition in Le Bourget, you could see the layout of the sixth-generation European fighter Next Generation Fighter (NGF), and next - the layout of a large UAV, developed as part of the same program (that is, the Future Combat Air System). And in Russia more than once they talked about the "kinship" of the new UAV "Okhotnik" and the fifth-generation fighter Su-57. However, it is hard to say exactly what the serial “Hunter” in the Russian Ministry of Defense see. So far, he looks not so much as an unmanned slave, but as a demonstrator of heavy multi-functional UAV technologies.
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  1. Mavrikiy 12 May 2020 05: 47 New
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    Loyal Wingman: a revolution in combat aviation or bluffing?
    Didn’t you like the pictures? repeat A matter of taste.
    It has one jet engine. - completely, completely reactive, disposable?
    1. Insurgent 12 May 2020 07: 05 New
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      Quote: Mavrikiy
      Didn’t you like the pictures? A matter of taste.
      It has one jet engine. - completely, completely reactive, disposable?

      Loyal Wingman: a revolution in combat aviation or bluffing?

      The name of the project is consonant with the epic Indian vimanam.





      1. psiho117 12 May 2020 12: 22 New
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        Quote: Insurgent
        Project Name Consonant with Epic Indian Wimans

        Lord, where are you from Wingman (slave) formed from words Wing (wing) and Mon (man) found a hint of vimana? belay
    2. Stas157 12 May 2020 09: 16 New
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      +1
      I liked the pictures, but why Loyal Wingman was revolutionary, I did not understand.
      1. Ka-52 12 May 2020 11: 57 New
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        but what revolutionary Loyal Wingman, did not understand.

        nothing in it. It is written to attract attention, in the style of icteric media. It was more correct to write:
        Boeing’s Australian subsidiary, Loyal Wingman, unveiled its prototype long-range heavy UAV.

        but it is boring and dull to read. Here is Ilya and added a gag)
      2. opus 12 May 2020 14: 35 New
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        Quote: Stas157
        I liked the pictures, but why Loyal Wingman was revolutionary, I did not understand.

        For Australia!
        The first military aircraft designed and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years was released as part of a partnership between the Australian Air Force and Boeing Australia.
        * It is built in Australia and is intended for export all over the world. Exporting will be easier without going through FMS in the USA.
        * Can fly with a partner leading or independently.
        * Has a range of approximately 2000 miles. 38 feet in length and uses a bizjet class engine.
        * Will work with E-7, EA-18G, F / A-18E / F and P-8 Poseidon.
        * Modular design for useful downloads and quick reconfiguration capabilities.
        * The initial configuration will be focused on intelligence and electronic warfare.
        It is controlled through a ground station, other aircraft and has some level of autonomy, which can be scaled for the mission.
        * Design was based mainly on what would be attractive to a global market full of weapons shortages.
        * Technology and development will be obtained locally in Australia.
        * Boeing will be able to adapt technology for foreign customers is much simpler than if he designed and built it in the United States.
        Morrison Government Invests Up To $ 40 Million In Boeing Loyal Wingman - Advanced Development in Australia, along with Boeing's largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program outside the United States.

        and we have

        Russia has again returned to investing in US papers. So, in February of this year, our country unexpectedly increased its investment in US government bonds (UST) immediately by 10% to $ 14,5 billion: $ 6,9 billion was invested in long-term bonds and $ 7,6 billion in short-term ones. It is reported by the US Treasury.

        Russia will not be able to completely abandon the “super-liquid and highly profitable” US bonds, even if the United States imposes sanctions on our country, experts say.
        1. eklmn 12 May 2020 21: 03 New
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          For the curious:
          The cost of the invisible drone is about $ 2 million, this is the condition of the contract - “low budget”. If it is destroyed, then the monetary damage is small.
  2. ruivit1988 12 May 2020 06: 05 New
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    It is curious that the future will be with unmanned fighters and bombers, or all the same they will be piloted by pilots. It seems to me that all the same they will be unmanned .... Although time, time, as a rule, makes its own adjustments.
  3. Same lech 12 May 2020 06: 06 New
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    And in Russia more than once they talked about the "kinship" of the new UAV "Okhotnik" and the fifth-generation fighter Su-57. However, it is hard to say exactly what the serial “Hunter” in the Russian Ministry of Defense see.

    The new is always being introduced with a creak ... but the idea is attractive ... it takes time to evaluate its usefulness and effectiveness for our videoconferencing ... it is too early to draw any conclusions.
  4. Mavrikiy 12 May 2020 06: 11 New
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    I clarify the question repeat
    Jet engines are divided into three groups:
    Liquid
    powder
    jet
    Read more at: https://avia.pro/blog/reaktivnyy-dvigatel-samoleta

    Boeing E-7A flight range - 6000 km
    As the bmpd military blog notes, these may be Boeing E-7A Wedgetail early warning radars.
    and where will the toy (3500) accompany him? request
    1. Aaron Zawi 12 May 2020 06: 20 New
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      Quote: Mavrikiy
      I clarify the question repeat
      Jet engines are divided into three groups:
      Liquid
      powder
      jet
      Read more at: https://avia.pro/blog/reaktivnyy-dvigatel-samoleta

      Boeing E-7A flight range - 6000 km
      As the bmpd military blog notes, these may be Boeing E-7A Wedgetail early warning radars.
      and where will the toy (3500) accompany him? request

      The toy can make additional adjustments in the air.
      1. novel66 12 May 2020 11: 12 New
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        but funny!
        Its length is 11 meters and a width of 11,7 meters.

        What is the width of the aircraft ???
        1. Insurgent 12 May 2020 12: 14 New
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          Quote: novel xnumx
          What is the width of the aircraft ???

          Say thanks for not "diagonal"wrote in inches (inch,") lol .
      2. Ka-52 12 May 2020 12: 09 New
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        The toy can make additional adjustments in the air.

        about the possibility of refueling in the air Loyal Wingman is not indicated anywhere. Yes, and I doubt that it exists now. The autopilots so far have rolled out the fuselage, as yet empty as a drum.
    2. opus 12 May 2020 14: 28 New
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      Quote: Mavrikiy
      and where will the toy (3500) accompany him?

      Like, they both took off in California and gadded to watch Murmansk7
      Yes?
      Will work with E-7, EA-18G, F / A-18E / F and P-8 Poseidon. and 2000 miles of combat radius
      Quote: Aaron Zawi
      The toy can make additional adjustments in the air.

      can not
  5. Vladimir_2U 12 May 2020 06: 22 New
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    The main design feature of the UAV can be called the modular principle
    Already with this "modularity" they have moved, or they are sculpting the word wherever they fall, and suspension containers can be called modules.
  6. knn54 12 May 2020 08: 20 New
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    It would be better if they created an unmanned disinfector. It is also suitable for farmers.
  7. JonnyT 12 May 2020 09: 25 New
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    The unmanned wingman - the lip is not a fool for the guys, they did not swing weakly, for such tasks they need a Skynet. And they do not have it)
    1. Carnifexx 12 May 2020 11: 00 New
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      This is for a self-contained drone you need a skynet (to make decisions about the attack, etc.), and here it’s just a slave who has limited autonomy (the carbon pilot gives instructions) - you need a stronger autopilot compared to the existing one.
  8. Mikhail3 12 May 2020 09: 27 New
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    I once wrote that unmanned escort of a manned fighter is the future of combat aviation, and the only possible one, otherwise there will be no fighters in the sky, they instantly kill them. Picked up minuses, I remember)
    Well, Americans don’t do that! Well, it turned out they’re doing it. How successful, we will see, but still try, naturally, removing assets and people from the Boeing itself, in anticipation of its bankruptcy. Interestingly, among our titanic state corporations, there are at least a couple of people who are capable of at least pretending to do that they are designing something similar? There is nothing to hope for real design, of course.
    1. NEXUS 12 May 2020 13: 54 New
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      Quote: Mikhail3
      Interestingly, among our titanic state corporations, there are at least a couple of people who are capable of at least pretending to do that they are designing something similar?

      And what do you respect, KR (cruise missile) is not a drone?
      1. Mikhail3 12 May 2020 17: 07 New
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        Shitful maneuverability, dear. That is, none at all. A couple of primitive anti-aircraft maneuvers and all. The guided “flock” of a fighter makes sense only when it has, for example, the ability to conduct manners beyond the capabilities of a person to withstand overloads, then returning to duty if you did not have to sacrifice yourself. And this is, in principle, a different level of electronics and a completely different engine.
        1. NEXUS 12 May 2020 17: 19 New
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          Quote: Mikhail3
          Shitful maneuverability, dear.

          The maneuverability that she has is enough for her eyes to complete her tasks.
          Quote: Mikhail3
          The guided "flock" of a fighter makes sense only when it has, for example, the ability to conduct manners beyond human capabilities to withstand overload

          Dear, we and mattresses are still very far from such technologies. For not one UAV is not able to compete with a manned fighter.
          1. Mikhail3 12 May 2020 17: 23 New
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            Any UAV equipped with a powerful engine is capable of leaving any fighter far behind. It’s just that before the idea of ​​a UAV did not involve solving such problems.
            And doesn’t it seem to you that the proposal to use a cruise missile as a UAV, justifying this possibility by the fact that the missile performs its tasks, a little ... how would it be ... strange?
            It’s just like in a joke: yes, he’s no politician, and about socialism he is like a dog ... but HOW KISSES !!
            1. NEXUS 12 May 2020 18: 11 New
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              Quote: Mikhail3
              Any UAV equipped with a powerful engine is capable of leaving any fighter far behind. It’s just that before the idea of ​​a UAV did not involve solving such problems.

              Seriously? wassat Here mattresses have developed a lot of different UAVs, only somehow they could not create a strike fighter UAV capable of at least somehow fighting manned opponents.
              Quote: Mikhail3
              And you don’t think that the proposal to use a cruise missile as a UAV,

              Dear, KR is an UAV only with a kamikaze mode.
              1. Mikhail3 13 May 2020 09: 11 New
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                You really don’t understand the difference between a rocket and a UAV? Hmm ... Okay, I’ll try to explain. The rocket engine is little adapted to change traction. He simply has no way to do this quickly and reliably. That is, maneuvering can be achieved, but with no efficiency. From a rocket of such a UAV as from an un planed club of rapier.
                Mattresses squeeze all of their investment. It is common for capitalism to not release anything new if there is something old and mastered. Since the military-industrial complex pie has long been divided, why twitch? There is no real war. So they released UAVs in those niches where there was nothing at all, namely, low-speed devices for monitoring and firing at small targets.
                Now the situation has changed for Boeing. The firm is over. Will not get out in its current form. It is necessary to save as much as possible the base and the best developers. To do this, you need something that at any moment can prove the highest efficiency, then no one can close new firms created from Boeing.
                Since there are all conditions for a breakthrough, in a couple of years something like F 16 with an unmanned flight will be demonstrated, which will 100% protect the leader from any missile attacks, and at the same time destroy as many fighters as there will be in the flight zone. The effect will be deafening)
                These pieces have vulnerabilities, of course. But the cultivation resource is huge, so everything will be cool. Hehe ...
  9. Zaurbek 12 May 2020 10: 08 New
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    The hunter is not a similar system .... there is a more maneuverable unit.
  10. DDT
    DDT 12 May 2020 14: 37 New
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    Yes. The principle of swarm. I haven’t been able to understand for a long time, what for are they so intensively studying wasps, bees and ants? What is the practical use? But here is the answer. Fighter flies, and next to a bunch of drones. The operator guides the target and essentially fulfills the role of AWACS. In the case of the destruction of their drones, unlike AWACS, the fighter will be able to fight back and return to base. There you have the war of the future. If there are no losses comparable to World War II, then there are no protests of civilians at home. Fight yourself until the enemy is completely destroyed and no one will say a word to you. The complete lack of ethics, no moral restrictions.
    The only hope is that I will die before it works gamno at the level of practical application.
    1. Mikhail3 12 May 2020 17: 11 New
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      In the case of loss of drones, the fighter will not be able to fight off in principle. We are proud that we made hypersonic missiles. And others did not. But the speed is half the hypersonic, a person is no longer available. Smash overload for any maneuver. And the rocket is quite accessible, so there are no more fighters on your own in the air. They are the past. Together with balloons - artillery observers.
      Only such a pack can protect its leader without being constrained by an overload restriction.
  11. voyaka uh 12 May 2020 15: 33 New
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    Kratos made a relatively cheap car.
    What price will the Boeing have per unit is not clear.
  12. Alexander Grizodub 13 May 2020 12: 12 New
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    And who was going to attack Australia? Or did she decide to deal with Papua New Guinea?
  13. Hydrogen 26 May 2020 21: 31 New
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    Well done, they try, they do, they decide, and we only have patriotic slogans every day.
  14. gridasov 18 June 2020 15: 43 New
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    The idea makes sense only if the drone will fly with acceleration, maneuvering, braking, reaching heights at which a person is physically unable to control the device. But this requires engines with such capabilities. Therefore, there is no breakthrough in engine building - there is no sense in implementing many aspects of the use of such technologies.