Queensland is poised to assemble Boeing’s first Australian-designed and developed unmanned aircraft.

The unmanned defence aircraft produced in a new partnership between the state and Boeing Australia, will be the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured within the country in more than 50 years.

New partnership will help Queensland to “recover and grow”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the partnership with Boeing would mean more high-skilled jobs, local supply opportunities and defence industry stimulus as Queensland continues to recover and grow from the COVID downturn.

“The creation of additional new aerospace capability could see unmanned defence aircraft produced here by the middle of the decade, with prototype testing and certification taking place before that,” she said. “We are carrying out our plan to recover and grow, including into new industries, and it’s very important that we do that not just as a government but with key partnerships.

“Our investment in this advanced manufacturing project will provide critical skills for suppliers, academia and Boeing, and culminate in Queensland becoming the primary final assembly facility for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, conditional on orders.”

She added: “Supporting this project is a significant investment in the Queensland defence and manufacturing industries and will strengthen ties between Australia and the global defence market. The unmanned teaming aircraft is Boeing’s first military aircraft to be designed and developed outside the US and uses artificial intelligence to extend the capabilities of manned and unmanned platforms.”

Loyal Wingman prototype unveiled this year

The first aircraft prototype, called the Loyal Wingman, was unveiled with the Royal Australian Air Force in May this year.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said the manufacturing was vital to the Queensland economy and the partnership would form one of the centrepieces of the government’s Unite and Recover Economic Recovery Plan.

“Our government’s longstanding commitment to advanced manufacturing is one of the reasons Queensland is already home to Boeing’s largest workforce outside the United States. Boeing has 1,700 staff in Queensland and supports 400 Queensland-based suppliers.”

“Loyal Wingman will mean even more highly skilled advanced manufacturing jobs, further reinforcing Queensland’s status as a centre for defence industries.”

Partnership will build “cutting-edge” skills

Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific President Brendan Nelson said the partnership to develop the advanced manufacturing capability represented a significant milestone for the company.

“It’s one that will build cutting-edge skills to stimulate the innovation ecosystem in Queensland,” he said. This includes introducing technologies such as advanced robotics; investment in universities, small-to-medium enterprises and start-up companies; as well as creating global export opportunities for Australia’s supply chain.

“This investment could unlock global defence and aerospace opportunities for Queensland to gain future work share in other Boeing programmes.”

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