SHAH ALAM: Unmanned Wing Man. Even as we struggle to find the proper funding for RMAF Cap 55 plan and her sister services recapitalisation projects, the world continue to move ahead. At the Avalon Show 2019 in Melbourne, Australia, Boeing unveiled a full size mock up of the Air Power Teaming System (ATS)
The ATS – a fighter like unmanned aircraft will operate together with manned combat and intelligence platforms as the wingman.
Designed for global defense customers by Boeing Australia, it is the company’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program outside the United States.
The aircraft will complement and extend airborne missions through smart teaming with existing military aircraft.
A model of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System was unveiled at the Australian International Airshow by the Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP. As a research and development activity, the Australian Government and Boeing will produce a concept demonstrator called the Loyal Wingman – Advanced Development Program that will provide key learnings toward the production of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned/unmanned missions,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems. “With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing’s portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power.”
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will:
— Provide fighter-like performance, measuring 38 feet long (11.7 metres) and able to fly more than 2,000 nautical miles
— Integrate sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and electronic warfare
— Use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft.
“This aircraft is a historic endeavor for Boeing. Not only is it developed outside the United States, it is also designed so that our global customers can integrate local content to meet their country-specific requirements,” said Marc Allen, president, Boeing International. “The Boeing Airpower Teaming System provides a transformational capability in terms of defense, and our customers – led by Australia – effectively become partners on the program with the ability to grow their own sovereign capabilities to support it, including a high-tech workforce.”
First flight is planned for 2020.
With the RMAF planning up to 2055, one has to wonder whether a new plan is required soon as it is looking likely that the assumptions for it will soon be superseded. Perhaps a shorter planning cycle is needed – based on a 15 year cycle – which among others will give more urgency to those providing the funding.
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