Som War Zone
was the first to report, Boeing is set to reveal an eerie unmanned combat vehicle, or UCAV, to the Royal Australian Air Force at this year's Avalon Air Show in Australia. The pilotless plan appears to be a previously unseen clean sheet design and will serve as a "loyal wingman" with manned aircraft, such as Australia's F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
Australia's Broadcasting Company (ABC) was the first to get details of the new drone on February 26, 2019. The day before, Boeing had teased the official revelation of the unmanned aircraft, which is still scheduled to arrive on February 27, 2019
The unmanned aircraft in the picture has a twin-shaped "taileron" configuration similar to YF-23 Black Widow as well as wings centrally mounted on both sides of the hull. The wings are similar to those found at General Atomics Predator C / Avenger, and recently on a set of mysterious Scaled Composites test flights. It also appears to have travazoidal air intakes on both sides of the hull, which is likely to provide a single jet engine recessed rearward to minimize infrared signature. Drone's plan form is separate from the company's MQ-25 Stingray drone thoughts for the US Navy and seems to be completely independent of the former Phantom Ray flying wing design.
Apart from the picture, seen at the top of this story and below, ABC gained more details about drone's capabilities. The report suggested that the UCAV could be close to 40 meters long and has a modular payload capable of accepting sensors, electronic warfare systems and ordinances.
Boeing has reportedly developed the unmanned aircraft locally in Brisbane, Australia, as part of a classified "Royal Wingman" program for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Australia's Department of Defense (DOD). Australia's Secretary of Defense Christopher Pyne will be the one to formally reveal the drone tomorrow, according to ABC.
Deputy Director of RAAF Air Vice Marshal Gavin Turnbull referred to this project in an interview published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank on February 27, 201
"As far as bang for buck is concerned, we can have the greatest impact in making our people successful in a combat environment that they have to enter," Turnbull explained. "We must be able to provide a level of deterrence, which means if you slip on us and we must bite, it will hurt."
"So in the future, consider what the power mix looks like between the manned and unmanned fighting units," he continued. "And there will always be a synergy in mixing them somehow."
War zone Tyler Rogoway touched on precisely these potential benefits of Australia, acquiring a UCAV capability in yesterday's article and writing:  An unmanned combat vehicle capable of some semi-autonomous missions and capable of functioning In the loyal wingman role where it is "attached to and taking directions from a nearby manned platform via data link, makes great sense to Australia as it would increase their air combat capability without having to buy extra high-cost fighters or train new airmen It would also make their entire giant more survivor and capable of adapting to enemy threats in the air, as well as increasing their fighter cadre's magazine capacity, sensor diversity, reach, and the drones themselves could also be interconnected in one swarm, which gives them greater capacity than the sum of their parts.
These terms can be manifested in different aircraft or potentially mixed together but in a single airplane, albeit with some compromises. But they should still be cheaper than a very smooth, advanced flying wing UCAV built for semi-autonomous or even autonomous operations deep in enemy territory.
A full-on fighter-like UCAV is also possible, but because of the cost and investment that Australia has already made in their growing fleet of F-35 & # 39; this seems questionable at this time. High kinetic performance would also mean sacrificing decay and reach, something that doesn't make sense. And we know of the features Boeing has shown that this aircraft is designed for giant-like speed and maneuverability, not extreme silence and long range.
Boeing was the first to openly prove the incredible potential of unmanned fighter jets (UCAVs) nearly two decades ago, but has since struggled to bring their vision to an operational state. In light of this, tomorrow's announcement will be a huge coup for the Chicago-based planner and will only open up new opportunities. In addition, considering Boeing also won the Navy's MQ-25 contract, the company is now firmly at the forefront of advanced unmanned aircraft development.
We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
UPDATE: 3:25 pm PST-
Looks like someone got a highlight in Boeing's tent at Avalon. There is what seems to be a mockup. A prototype is possible because of the poor quality of the image, but it is doubtful. Nevertheless, it gives us a sense of scope.
Now, Boeing has just submitted this video showing CGI on the plane in manned machine holding mode operations along with an Aussie Growler and an E-7 Wedgetail. Oh, and the name is officially called Boeing Airpower Teaming System:
A clearer picture of mockup:
UPDATE: 3:47 PM PST-
] Some Basic Facts About Air Airpower Teaming System:
- It is built in Australia and intended for export worldwide. Exports will be easier without having to go through the US FMS process.
- The evolution of the system has been split about 60/40 between the Australian Defense Ministry and Boeing, where Boeing takes the bulk of the deal by spending about $ 62 million. On the program.
- A prototype is being built now
- Can fly with or without a manned partner.
- Has a range of about 2,000 miles.
- Is 38 meters long and uses a bizjet-class engine.
- Will team with E-7, EA-18G, F / A-18E / F and P-8 Poseidon.
- Modular design for the & # 39; snap-in & # 39; payload and fast reconfiguration function.
- The original configuration will be sensor / intelligence and electronic war focus. ] Controlled via ground station, second aircraft and some degree of autonomy that can be scaled to the mission.
- Design was primarily based on what would be attractive to a global market filled with money-stricken air force.
- Will be tested over Australia's great deserts, where there is plenty of room for experimentation. (Probably based on Woomera)
- The technology and development will be acquired locally in Australia.
- Boeing will be able to adapt technology to foreign customers much easier than to develop and build in the United States.
You can read more here at Aviation Week's embargo exclusive. I will soon make a large analysis that addresses issues that are not discussed in the report.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com