Boeing Australia announced on 15 September that it has powered up the engine of the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) prototype serving as one of the developmental platforms for the company’s Airpower Teaming System (ATS) effort in anticipation of its first flight.
Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS)
The unmanned aircraft is one of three prototypes that are being developed as a part of the Loyal Wingman-Advanced Development Programme – also known as the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS) – in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
“This engine run gets us closer toward flying the first aircraft later this year,” said Dr Shane Arnott, Boeing ATS programme director.
“We’ve been able to select a very light, off-the-shelf jet engine for the unmanned system as a result of the advanced manufacturing technologies applied to the aircraft,” he added, although further details were not disclosed.
The fuselage earlier been completed in February, with the fully assembled aircraft stood on its own wheels and electrical system powered up for the first time in April.
Work on the first prototype will enable Boeing Australia to reduce risk and determine best practices in production of the ATS. The company also received permission from the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) in June to share information on ATS design and developmental work with the United Kingdom.
When fully developed, the ATS will be approximately 11.7 m in long – essentially fighter-sized – and expected to achieve an operational range in excess of 3,000 km. It will also be able to employ electronic warfare or sensor payloads in its modular mission bay, but this could eventually be adapted to carry weapons.
ATS aircraft are envisioned to fly autonomously or semi-autonomously in direct support to RAAF platforms such as the Boeing EA-18G Growler EW, P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol, and E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft, as well as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
by Jr Ng