BRISBANE, AAP – Aerospace giant Boeing has selected Toowoomba in southeast Queensland to build unmanned military aircraft at a facility unlike any other outside North America.
Subject to orders from the federal government, a “final assembly production facility” will be built at Wellcamp Airport, owned by the Wagner Corporation.
“We know the federal government is working very closely with Boeing on determining the order that they require,” state Treasurer Cameron Dick said on Wednesday.
The aircraft, known as the Loyal Wingman, completed its first test flight this year and Boeing’s Scott Carpendale said further development was going to plan.
“The (Royal Australian Air Force’s) support for the Loyal Wingman program has set off somewhat of a rival of the aerospace manufacturing industry here in Australia,” he said.
Mr Carpendale said the uncrewed aircraft uses artificial intelligence to operate “in a teaming capacity” with manned aircraft, and was designed, developed and conceived in Australia.
It’s the first military combat aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia in half a century.
“We don’t have a confirmed order now but every indication is they’re very confident (and) very happy with the capability the aircraft provides,” he said.
“There’s significant interest from other countries in this capability, it’s always been designed as a platform that was developed in Australia but designed very much for its exportability.”
Assuming the federal government proceeds with the project, Boeing will need a production facility “in the middle of this decade”.
It’s hoped a defence and aerospace precinct at Wellcamp would attract more companies in similar fields, chairman John Wagner said.
The project is expected to create 300 jobs during construction and 70 ongoing operational and production positions.
Boeing Australia is currently developing six aircraft in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force, with flight testing ongoing.