Technology 2 min read

Boeing Launches Fighter-Like Unmanned Combat jet

Known for their juggernaut status in the aircraft industry, Boeing has long had plans to expand their operations beyond traditional aircraft. This latest foray into new technology involves an unmanned jet designed to operate alongside human-crewed aircraft.

An initial rendering of Boeing's designs. | UAV Dach

An initial rendering of Boeing's designs. | UAV Dach

Amid news of plans for “civilian drones” and “pocket military drones“, we now have a first look at Boeing’s unmanned jet.

Unveiled at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon, the sleek, if eerie, lines of the aircraft show the future potential of Boeing’s unmanned jets.

The cost and capabilities of the drone may give some cause for concern or, by contrast, excitement.

“Loyal Wingman” Multi-Purpose Drone Aircraft

The Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS) is imposing and impressive at 38 feet (11.6 meters) in length. It has a 2,000-nautical mile or 3,704-kilometer range and can be tailored to unique needs.

How much could a bespoke, unmanned jet from a major aircraft company cost? Actual pricing details remain slim for now.

However, the Australian government says it invested A$40-million or $28.75-million USD into the prototype program. They find the unmanned jet’s “enormous capability for exports” most appealing.

Competitors Kratos Defense and Security Solutions Inc and Lockheed Martin Corp have also dropped hints about their unmanned aircraft developments. But Boeing shipped its model to work alongside other existing models like the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

This means that, for defense purposes, manned platforms can mitigate losses and damage by using the unmanned aircraft for more risky endeavors.

Capable of “fighter-like performance”, the jet has onboard sensors for surveillance, electronic warfare and intelligence missions. | Boeing via Defense News

Supposedly More Than Just a Military Drone

In total, Boeing plans to develop three prototype air vehicles for testing. The semi-autonomous multi-mission system joins their other futuristic ventures including air taxis and ocean exploration.

But the most important facet may be the ATS’ customization option. Kristin Robertson, the general manager and vice president of Boeing Autonomous Systems, commented on the intent behind the unmanned jet’s development:

“We didn’t design this as a point solution but a very flexible solution that we could outfit with payloads, sensors, different mission sets to complement whatever their fleet is…”

Boeing Defence began construction on the first prototype in Brisbane, Queensland already. The company plans to begin flight testing in 2020.

Read More: Hoverbikes, Drones and Data: 3 Ways Global law Enforcement is Using Tech

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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