American plane-maker Boeing has revealed a stealthy, robotic fighter jet that could fly into battle alongside old-school manned planes.
But the “loyal wingman” drone, as officials call it, isn’t for the U.S. military. The Australian government funded the ‘bot’s development in the hope of equipping Royal Australian Air Force squadrons with drone wingmen.
Which is not to say American forces won’t eventually get their own drone wingmen. The idea of deploying robotic warplanes alongside manned ones dates back to World War II. Australia just took a big step toward updating the concept for the 21st century.
The United States likely won’t be far behind.
Boeing’s Australian subsidiary unveiled the so-called “Airpower Teaming System” at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon on Feb. 27. The most striking part of the new system is a 38-foot-long, jet-powered drone that Boeing said could carry weapons and sensors and fly as far as 2,000 miles—all while being more affordable than a $100-million manned jet.