This loyal wingman spline solo for now, but the fact that it's flying is a huge milestone.
If you're a regular to this channel, you probably know that I've been closely following the development of Boeing's loyal wingman drone, also known as the airpower teaming system.
This unmanned aerial vehicle is three years in the making.
And this week, we got a look at the prototypes first successful test flight in Southern Australia.
The drone took off under its own power.
Then through a predetermined route at different altitudes and speeds so engineers could track how it operated in different conditions.
Once the drone completed its route.
It made a successful landing on its own.
And though the loyal wingman completed the entire mission autonomously, there was a human pilot supervising the operation on the ground.
This comes just about two months after the drone completed its first high speed taxi test To validate things like ground handling navigation pilot interface.
The Royal wingman is a joint venture between Boeing Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force.
It's the first military aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia in more than half a century.
The drone is built to rely heavily on artificial intelligence.
Though Boeing says testing the AI wasn't the priority for this test flight.
Now, the loyal wingman is designed to accompany piloted aircraft, hence the nickname, though it's expected to be used for solo missions as well.
The drone is built of advanced composite materials, including what Boeing calls, the largest resonant few single piece ever produced by Boeing measuring at 38 feet long.
The drone has a range of about 2300 miles.
And of course, there's the customizable nose to talk about.
Think of it like a modular phone.
The military can swap out different customizable noses depending on the mission.
And to be sure, it's not clear exactly when this test flight happened.
We know it was slated for the end of 2020 at that time.
Frameless delayed, Boeing didn't give any specifics on how the drone performed during the flight.
But we do know the Royal Air Force signed a $150 million contract this week to buy three more of the drones.
That's a total of six drones ordered by the Air Force.
It's not clear when delivery is expected, but Boeing did say the first team flights are scheduled for later this year Now that of course will be really exciting to watch out for, but I think it's worth noting, just how big of an achievement this first test flight was.
I mean, this program just started three years ago.
That is not a lot of time to design develop and test fly, an entirely new type of aircraft.
For more on the oil wing man and how Boeing used digital twin technology to help design it, click on this video.
And I wanna know what's the most exciting thing you see coming in the world of drones?
Let us know in the comments below.