Loyal Wingman aircraft takes first flight

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Related ministers and contacts

Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Minister for Women

Acting Minister for Defence

The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

Media contacts

David Wroe (Minister Payne): +61 429 531 143
Melanie Ruiz (Minister Payne): +61 427 888 392
Ben Spencer (Minister Price): +61 468 369 301
Defence Media: media@defence.gov.au ​​​​​​​

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2 March 2021

Joint media release:

  • Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women, Acting Minister for Defence

The Morrison Government will invest a further $115 million in the Boeing Loyal Wingman program to continue developing the Australian-designed and built aircraft.

This will see Australia acquire three additional aircraft to help develop teaming tactics with our crewed platforms.

It comes as the first Loyal Wingman completed its inaugural flight over the weekend, taking off and landing at the Woomera Range Complex, South Australia.

The Acting Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the Loyal Wingman program is testament to the ingenuity of Australia’s defence industry.

“Air Force and Boeing are delivering world leading, cutting edge capability that will help protect and support Australia’s most valuable Defence aircraft, and the pilots who fly them,” Minister Payne said.

“At the same time, the program is supporting Australian jobs and boosting Australia’s Defence Industry.

“Through this Government’s investment in the Loyal Wingman program, we have helped secure over 100 Australian jobs.

“This includes 33 highly skilled aviation engineering jobs in Victoria that would otherwise have been made redundant in the midst of COVID-19.”

The flight marks the first time an Australian-designed military combat aircraft has performed an inaugural flight in Australia in over 50 years.

The Morrison Government has already invested up to $40 million in the program, which is helping Defence understand the interplay of piloted and remotely piloted air team systems and how they can contribute to Australia’s defence and national security objectives.

“Today’s additional investment is part of the Morrison Government’s unprecedented $270 billion investment in defence capability over the next decade,” Minister Payne said. 

“Our experience with the Loyal Wingman program so far has allowed this Government to confidently support the next stage of development.

“This program is Australian innovation at its finest and presents Australia and our partners with opportunities for critical capabilities to fight emerging global threat systems.”

The Loyal Wingman has a range of more than 3,700 kilometres, helping to project power forward while keeping crewed capabilities out of harm’s way.

The additional investment will ensure ongoing support of the current workforce and increased footprint in areas including advanced mission system software development, high technology aircraft manufacturing and uncrewed aircraft flight testing.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the investment is part of the Morrison Government’s plan to accelerate Defence initiatives in the COVID-19 recovery.

“Through our $1 billion recovery package we are boosting Australia’s defence industry and supporting thousands of jobs across the country,” Minister Price said.

“This new stage of development will deliver an increase in the advanced mission capabilities of the aircraft. 

“Here is another high-flying example of how we are backing our local defence industry base, supporting and creating jobs in a range of high technology areas.

“We are very excited about the export potential of the Loyal Wingman.”

Air Force and Boeing will continue testing the Loyal Wingman to examine its unique capabilities which are designed to support a range of Defence aircraft in various roles.

Imagery of the Loyal Wingman is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20203916

Vision is available at: https://innovatehub.sharepoint.com/:f:/s/mediahub/EnvhMBjkA1JBhAQ7N3OsDXYBl_-PPHghr2Jgwab68EN4Tg?e=YzzK50

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