Feb. 28 (UPI) -- During the Australian International Airshow, Boeing unveiled its newest unmanned drone, the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
The system was viewed Wednesday by Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne at Avalon Airport in Victoria, Australia, 25 miles north of Melbourne.
The first flight is planned for 2020, according to Boeing in a news release.
The Loyal Wingman project had been secretive but the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported the drone is designed to carry bombs, in addition to carrying out electronic warfare and reconnaissance missions.
The company said the system, roughly the size of a traditional jet fighter, is the company's largest investment in an unmanned aircraft program outside the United States. It was developed in collaboration with the Royal Australian Air Force and the Defense Department.
"This aircraft is a historic endeavor for Boeing," Boeing International President Marc Allen said. "Not only is it developed outside the United States, it is also designed so that our global customers can integrate local content to meet their country-specific requirements. The Boeing Airpower Teaming System provides a transformational capability in terms of defense, and our customers -- led by Australia -- effectively become partners on the program with the ability to grow their own sovereign capabilities to support it, including a high-tech workforce."
The drone measures 38 feet long and can fly more than 2,000 nautical miles.
"The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces' manned/unmanned missions," said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems. "With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing's portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power."
Accompanying animations by Boeing showed three prospective drones flying alongside a Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 fighter jet and an E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft.
It uses artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft, the company said.
"We need the flexibility and agility of the human meshed with the speed of a machine. When we put those together, we've got a quite amazing outcome," Air Marshal Leo Davies, chief of the RAAF, said in an interview with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
During the unveiling, Pyne revealed that the government will contribute $28.7 million to the development of the system in a quest to become one of the world's top 10 defense suppliers and building a manufacturing base at home.
"Exports will provide our defense industry with greater certainty of future investment and support high-end manufacturing jobs for Australians for generations to come," the government said in its Defense Export Strategy released last year.
BREAKING NEWS: Check out our new smart, reconfigurable unmanned aircraft that will protect & project airpower! #TheFutureIsBuiltHere #AirpowerTeaming— Boeing Defense (@BoeingDefense) February 26, 2019
Read more about the Boeing Airpower Teaming System: https://t.co/Gabz4x9oBv pic.twitter.com/K1Nnvc0jl6