Boeing To Open Loyal Wingman Assembly Plant In Australia

The Loyal Wingman ahead of first flight testing at Woomera Range Complex.
Credit: Boeing

Boeing will build a final assembly facility for the Airpower Teaming System (ATS) in the state of Queensland, Australia, to begin serial production of the autonomous unmanned aircraft.

The facility will be the U.S. defense prime’s first such site outside North America. 

Boeing told Aerospace DAILY that production at the plant outside the city of Toowoomba will commence by 2025, pending orders from the Australian Department of Defense. Assembly will be focused solely on the ATS, often referred to as the Loyal Wingman.

The Wellcamp Aerospace and Defense Precinct at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport was picked as the preferred location due to access to a flight line, clear flying days and commercial flight access from major cities. The site is also only 115 km (71 mi.) from Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Amberley, which houses a squadron of Boeing F/A-18Fs Super Hornet, EA-18G Growlers and airlift units. 

Australia’s Treasurer and Minister for Investment Cameron Dick estimates that the project could generate up to A$1 billion ($750 million) for Queensland’s economy over 10 years.

The state itself has its own 10-year defense roadmap which aims to generate 3,500 new defense-related jobs by 2028. 

The first three ATS prototypes are being built by Boeing Australia in Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city. The first aircraft made its debut flight from RAAF Base Woomera on Feb. 27, 2021. Days later, the Australian Department of Defense added three more units to the backlog worth $115 million.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.