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Loyal Wingman drone makes its first flight

The first military aircraft designed and made in Australia in over 50 years is meant to aid piloted aircraft. But for now this wingman is flying solo.

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Boeing Australia has completed the first test flight of its Airpower Teaming System, or Loyal Wingman drone, designed for the Royal Australian Air Force.

The uncrewed aircraft successfully took off under its own power from a runway on southern Australia's Woomera Range Complex February 27th, Boeing says. Following takeoff, the drone completed a predetermined route at different speeds and altitudes before safely landing. Boeing says a human pilot supervised the flight from the ground. Click the video above to watch the Loyal Wingman's first test flight.

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The first Loyal Wingman drone prototype, unveiled in 2020.

Boeing

The drone is designed to fly alongside manned aircraft, and relies heavily on artificial intelligence. "The Loyal Wingman project is a pathfinder for the integration of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence to create smart human-machine teams," said Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts of the RAAF.

Shortly after Boeing announced the test flight, the RAAF announced that it's ordered three additional Loyal Wingman drones, bringing the total number ordered to six.

The test flight comes just three years after Boeing Australia entered into an agreement with the RAAF to design and build the drone.