Uncrewed Loyal Wingman conducts first high-speed taxi test

The aircraft has been through low-, medium- and high-speed taxi tests since October. Flight testing is to commence in early 2021.


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The Loyal Wingman displays its orange, flight-test livery.

The Loyal Wingman displays its orange, flight-test livery. Photo Credit: Boeing

A Boeing-led Australian team and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) reported on Dec. 21 that the unmanned Loyal Wingman completed its first high-speed taxi test in preparation for the prototype’s first flight.

Boeing test personnel monitored the aircraft’s performance and instrumentation from a ground control station to verify the functionality while the vehicle reached accelerated speeds. The uncrewed aircraft has been undergoing low-, medium- and high-speed taxi testing at a remote test location in Australia since October 2020.

“Our test program is progressing well, and we are happy with the ground test data we have collected to date,” says Paul Ryder, Boeing Flight Test manager. “We are working with the Air Warfare Centre (AWC) to complete final test verifications to prepare for flight testing in 2021.”

Boeing and the RAAF will resume final taxi tests and preparations for flight in early 2021 when the range reopens.

RAAF Head of Air Force Capability Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts reports seeing the aircraft in person during the December trials was extraordinary. “There is something very special about testing an aircraft that takes technology to the next level. It is iconic in its own way,” says Roberts. “Experiencing the enthusiasm of the Boeing and Air Force team reminded me of my early career testing aircraft. This is what innovation is all about — working together to achieve many firsts.”

More than 35 Australian suppliers on the Australian industry team have contributed to the aircraft development, including investment partner BAE Systems Australia, which has been embedded with the Boeing test team on site.

“In the past year alone, we have made strides on this aircraft, taking it from a fuselage to a finished aircraft that has undergone rigorous testing,” says Dr. Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System. “Our focus now is on conducting a safe and secure flight-test regimen for the Loyal Wingman program.”