Boeing and Australian air force complete pilotless test flight


Boeing Co and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has completed the first flight test on a pilotless fighter-like jet.

The jet was designed to operate in conjunction with crewed aircraft.

The jet named “Loyal Wingman” is the first military aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years.

It flew under the supervision of a Boeing test pilot monitoring it from a ground control station in South Australia.

The Australian government has invested A$40 million ($31 million) in development of the product, which Boeing has said could be customised for other global customers.

Boeing’s Loyal Wingman is 38 feet long (11.6 metres), has a 2,000 nautical mile (3,704 km) range and a nose that can be removed to fit various payloads.

It can carry weapons and act as a shield to help protect more expensive manned fighter jets.

During the test flight in Australia, the Loyal Wingman took off under its own power before flying a pre-determined route at different speeds and altitudes to verify its functionality and demonstrate the performance of the design.

Boeing said additional Loyal Wingman aircraft are currently under development, with plans for teaming flights scheduled for later this year.