Brisbane, Australia (WNN) – Chicago-based aerospace giant Boeing has announced plans to build a new type of drone military aircraft in Australia.
Boeing said on Wednesday that it has selected the city of Toowoomba in the state of Queensland as the final assembly point for its unmanned Loyal Wingman aircraft. The first test flights were completed earlier this year.
The announcement comes less than a week after the US, UK and Australia announced a new security alliance that would supply nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. The deal was condemned by China and it escalated tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.
Scott Karpendel, managing director of Boeing Defense Australia, said development of the new aircraft is being planned. He said it uses artificial intelligence to work in conjunction with manned aircraft and was conceived, designed and developed in Australia.
It is the first military fighter aircraft to be designed and built in Australia in half a century. Boeing Australia is currently developing six aircraft in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force.
Carpendel said none of the orders have been confirmed, but the Australian government appears confident and happy about the Loyal Wingman’s abilities.
“There is a significant interest from other countries,” Karpendel said.
He said the drone will be built at a facility at the Wellcamp airport, which is owned by Wagner Corp.
Wagner President John Wagner said he expects a defense and aerospace sector at the airport will attract more companies in similar sectors.
The project is expected to create 300 jobs during the construction of the facility and 70 ongoing operational and production positions.
Queensland State Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk said the announcement was “great news” and that Boeing has set up a facility of its kind outside North America for the first time.