Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS), a drone intended to perform in a combat environment alongside fighter jets, is set to be one of the main attractions at the company’s static display at Dubai Airshow 2021.
The company prepares to pitch the aircraft to the international audience, hoping to attract attention and possible orders with its autonomous capabilities.
The ATS is one of several latest examples of the type, nicknamed ‘Loyal Wingmen’. Under development in various countries, they are intended to be affordable, in order to supplement expensive fourth, fifth, and sixth-generation fighter jets.
The aircraft has been developed by Boeing Australia in cooperation with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). It completed its maiden flight in March 2021. In September 2021, Boeing announced that it was opening a plant to mass-produce the type.
According to Boeing’s press release, published on November 4, 2021, two prototypes of the ATS are currently performing intensive flight tests in Australia.
“We’re in a steady rhythm of flight testing on the way to mission and operational testing, enabling Boeing Australia, RAAF and our Australian industry team of more than 35 companies to progressively advance the flight characteristics and capabilities of the uncrewed teaming system,” Glen Ferguson, director of Boeing ATS program, said in the release.
The testing includes the inspection of the aircraft’s landing gear and artificial intelligence (AI) systems, as well as proceeding with the development of the payloads for ATS’ reconfigurable nose, which can house a number of sensors and systems intended for different combat scenarios.
The statement claims that Boeing has already attracted “various global customers” for the ATS and has hinted at possible foreign sales.
One such global customer is the United States Air Force’s Skyborg program, in which Boeing is one of the three finalists alongside General Atomics and Kratos.