Boeing Australia unveiled the Air Force on Tuesday with a prototype jet propulsion drone hoping one day to fly alongside manned warplanes, bringing artificial intelligence to the battlefield.
The Loyal Wingman, 38 feet (11.5 meters) long and with a radius of 2,000 miles (3,218.6 kilometers), “will use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft, while maintaining a distance of safety among other aircraft, “according to the Boeing website on the project.
Drones will be able to engage in electronic wars, intelligence missions, reconnaissance and surveillance and quickly swap between those roles, according to Boeing.
The plane delivered to Sydney on Tuesday is the first of three prototypes that Boeing is producing.
It is also the first aircraft “designed, engineered and produced in Australia for over 50 years,” Boeing said in a statement.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said drones will protect the country’s most expensive fighter planes such as F-35 stealth fighters and their pilots in the future, and the production of drones will help in a current crisis, fighting the effects of coronavirus.
“The Loyal Wingman program has helped support around 100 high-tech jobs in Australia. Such projects will be key to sustaining growth and supporting jobs as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Morrison said in a note.
The Australian government claims to have invested around $ 40 million in the project. The Australian government calls the link between Boeing and RAAF “a partnership”, but specified that it provided details on the actual ownership of the prototypes.
Boeing says the project represents its largest investment in unmanned aircraft outside the United States, although it does not provide specific figures and proposes it as customizable for export as the basis of its “Airpower Teaming System”.
“We are proud to take this significant step forward with the Royal Australian Air Force and show the potential of an intelligent unmanned team to act as a force multiplier,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Systems for Boeing Defense, Space and Security. “We can’t wait to take the plane on a flight test and demonstrate the concept of an unmanned team.”
Flights for the first time are expected by the end of the year, Boeing and RAAF said in a statement.
Boeing first announced plans for the drone at an airshow in Melbourne 15 months ago.
RAAF chief Air Marshal Leo Davies then suggested that an artificial intelligence drone would interact with human pilots in an interview with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
“We can program it to learn, but learn in a linear way, it’s not emotional and is in many ways, in a sense of air combat, inflexible enough,” said Davies.
“When we look at a pilot’s ability to assess the situation, it brings with it an amount of emotion and creativity that allows us to be agile.
“We need the flexibility and agility of the human being combined with the speed of a machine. When we put them together, we have a rather surprising result,” said Davies.
Coffee enthusiast. Travel scholar. Infuriatingly humble zombie fanatic. Thinker. Professional twitter evangelist.