air craft military Aircraft Military

Boeing Loyal Wingman Drone Debuts: Robotic Fighter Jets Set to Transform the Skies

A shift as remarkable as the jump from propellers to jets, the next major breakthrough in military aviation will be more formidable than ever before. After all, it’s replacing the pilot with silicon. Introducing the Loyal Wingman, the upcoming generation of military aircraft that will literally remove the human from the cockpit. New drones, such as the Turkish Bayraktar, have drastically turned the tide of war, and their future role cannot be overlooked. Technology is rapidly reaching a point where it’s more efficient to operate a fleet of drone aircraft than human-based fighter pilots. But does this signal a golden era, or are we merely setting ourselves up for a real-life Terminator? Let’s dive in.

Drones have a longer history than you might realize. The first military drone-like objects were the balloon bombs that Field Marshal von Radetzky of Austria used to attack Venice – quite unsuccessfully, I might add – in 1849. Their capabilities have grown increasingly sophisticated. Notably, drones are being developed to be used in tandem with manned aircraft, such as fighter jets. The emerging class of highly intelligent drones, known as the ‘Loyal Wingman,’ is already being tested, and their role with sixth-generation fighter jets is of particular interest.

Over time, UAVs or drones have evolved to include missions like manned-unmanned teaming, aerial refueling, electronic warfare, and other military-related functions. Just recently, the US performed the first mid-air refueling with a drone aircraft, breaking ground in the class’s utility. A recent report stated that over 5,000 drone aircraft will be built per year by 2027 in over 101 countries as part of their military operations. So far, there are 50 or so development programs, but only a handful of nations have seen, air quotes, lethal results.

Top players include the world powers such as the US, China, Russia, EU, and UK, but surprisingly also Australia, Japan, and South Korea, which we will get to in a comment. The dark horse in the race to build military drones is Turkey, whose new TB2 Bayraktar has performed very well in recent conflicts in the region.

The Boeing ATS, also referred to as Loyal Wingman, epitomizes the modern UAV, which means it’s all about stealth and versatility. Notably, it serves as a force multiplier aircraft that can fly alongside manned aircraft. It can also be used for autonomous missions. Crucially, artificial intelligence or AI is central to the design philosophy and various capabilities of Boeing’s Loyal Wingman.

A key technical feature of this military drone is its modular mission package system, whereby its AI is located in its nose. The craft’s nose can be quickly and easily removed and replaced with another nose containing a completely different set of equipment or armament guidance systems, while the spy tech or weapons are loaded in the internal bay. This means the Loyal Wingman can be rapidly deployed for a variety of different and very specific missions, which can include combat, reconnaissance, and, most specifically to this class of UAV, electronic warfare.

The nose, by the way, is 2.5 meters or 8.2 feet long and offers a storage volume of more than 1.5 meters or 5 feet cubed. But what weapons will it carry? Sorry to disappoint, but so far Boeing has been tight-lipped, leaving us only to speculate. We know that air-to-air missions might be equipped with Aim-9s for bomber escorts and interceptions, and we wouldn’t rule out tactical ground strikes.

Furthermore, another advantage is that its fuselage is made of composite materials that use an advanced resin-infusion process, resulting in a lighter and more durable craft. The drone has an integrated onboard sensor package that should

Related Posts

Cutting Ties: Turkey’s Solo Journey to Supercharged F-16s – Enhanced Radar, Advanced Missiles, and Independent Upgrades

The situation regarding Turkey’s acquisition of F-16 Fighting Falcon jets undergoes weekly fluctuations. It is probable that Turkey will internally enhance the fighters. Here’s What We Know: In…

Unleashing the VENOM: F-16 Fighter Jets Transformed into Cutting-Edge Experimental Drones

The US Air Force is seeking 1,000 guided unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to complement sixth- and fifth-generation fighters. In preparation for this endeavor, the Air Force plans to…

Next-Generation Dominance: US Navy’s Secretive F/A-XX Fighter Program to Supplant F/A-18E/F Super Hornet with $11.554bn Investment

The U.S. Navy is seeking over $11 billion by fiscal year (FY) 2028 for the development of the F/A-XX aircraft. This is the first time the service has…

Falling Short: US Air Force’s Critical Test Failure of Hypersonic AGM-183A ARRW Missile on B-52H Stratofortress Nuclear-Powered Bomber

On 13 March 2023, the US Air Force carried out another trial of a hypersonic missile. It has been discovered that the trial resulted in a lack of…

Mission Compromised: Shocking Revelation – Less than 30% of US F-35 Lightning II Fifth-Generation Fighters Combat-Ready

The Ministry of Defence is facing recurring issues with its fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II jets. Only a fraction of the aircraft are fully operational. Here’s What We Know:…



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *