Boeing Australia has announced it will assemble its Airpower Teaming System (ATS) uncrewed air system (UAS) at Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport, west of Brisbane.
Being developed for the ADF’s Air Force Minor Program DEF 6014 Phase 1 Loyal Wingman development program and possibly similar US and international UAS requirements, the ATS has been designed and developed in Australia primarily by a team of Boeing Defence Australia, Boeing Phantom Works International, and Australian industry partners including BAE Systems Australia.
The ATS was first publicly revealed at the 2019 Avalon Airshow. Since then, development has been rapid, culminating in a successful first flight of an air vehicle at Woomera Test Range in SA in February 2021. The RAAF has so far ordered six ATS air vehicles for DEF 6014 Phase 1, and a new round of testing is scheduled to occur in the coming weeks.
Designed to be capable of escorting manned combat aircraft or high value assets at jet speeds, the ATS is capable of carry electronic warfare, radar, or optical ISR, or weapons payloads in detachable nose sections and an internal payload bay.
Boeing Defence Australia Vice President and Managing Director, Scott Carpendale said the selection of Wellcamp Airport as Boeing’s preferred location for the company’s first final assembly production facility is indicative of Boeing’s global focus and support for Australia’s sovereign defence capability growth, supply chain, and export opportunities.
“We are confident in the future production outlook for this world-class, innovative aircraft,” Carpendale said in a September 22 release. “We’re thinking long-term about this investment, which could assist Australia to gain future work share in other global defence and aerospace opportunities, in addition to the Loyal Wingman assembly.
“The Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct location is attractive due to its access to a flight line, clear flying days, commercial flight access from major cities and ability to support the rapid pace at which the Airpower Teaming System program is growing,” he added.
“Sustainable aerospace is a critical focus for Boeing, and (Wellcamp Airport owner) Wagner Corporation’s use of sustainable construction methods supports our vision to create a leading sustainable aerospace manufacturing facility from the ground up, including renewable technologies and human-centric design.”
The Toowoomba facility will be Boeing’s first assembly facility outside of North America, and the ATS will be the first military combat aircraft designed and developed in Australia since the 1960s.