A bit Deeper Look at the Boeing’s Loyal Wingman

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Loyal Wingman Boeing’s near future ace in the hole for F/A-18 E/F/G in Finnish Air Force’s Hornet Replacement (HX) program. Rendering is courtesy of Boeing

I’m going to look a bit of stealth capabilities of Boeing’s Loyal Wingman in general terms, and what would this kind of capability bring to table concerning the HX-program. The sensor and weapon packages for LW are still unknown, but will most likely have an (sidelooking? AESA?) radar and maybe IRST sensor. Networking capabilities will be second to none, and this sensors and networking capabilities will make the Loyal Wingman Drone a force multiplier even in Finnish Air Force scale.

Extremely stealthy drone will facilitate a tactic where drones will act as remote sensors and find targets for the manned fighters behind them. This will enable the fighters to act as shooters with minimum risk to themselves. Risk will be taken by the unmanned drones.

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Loyal Wingman from the front. This view gives excellent glimpse of stealth shape of the drone. Rendering by courtesy of Boeing

AS one can see from this rendering Loyal wingman will be very hard to detect from the front, and from approximately same altitude. The nose is triangular and top of the plane is nicely rounded which will scatter radar beams away or up to the sky very handsomely. I think this will make the drone extremely stealthy from the front in 10GHz range. The management of beam reflections is excellent. Wings are in about 20° from flight direction, so that is the approximate direction of scatter. The fuselage and tail fins are in about 50° from vertical so most energy will be reflected downwards. This will of course give a very solid reflection to that direction but this has been mitigated by shaping of the hull in sort of canoe shape. The canoe shape will provide horizontal scatter into the 50° downwards position.

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Three quaters view of Boeing’s Loyal Wingman drone, another glimpse of stealth features of the new Australian and Boeing jointly developed drone. Rendering by courtesy of Boeing.

In ¾ view the canoe shape is sort of evident behind the air intakes for the engine. Biggest reflectors will be the tail fins, but there is very little somebody can do about them. Other part nothing really can be done about is the engine: It will give out exhaust plume to the back and the counter turning turbine blades will be visible from behind, so all you can really do is not to turn tail and try to run for it. Also if the LW is going in low any radar will be very luckily positioned if it can pick Loyal Wingman for long enough time to ge a solution against it.

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Approximate Stealth characteristics of Loyal Wingman in horizontal plane.  Drone should be extremely stealthy from all other aspects than from dead astern.  In this picture nose is up. 

As the fuselage is sort of triangular shaped there will be quite little of room for weapons within the fuselage. But I do think there will be room to limited selection of (air to ground) missiles, so that saturation attacks from many directions can be facilitated. but as I said the amount will be rather small. I’d wager for 2-4 SDB sized munitions, say like Spear 3 missiles.

Boeing’s Loyal Wingman would indeed be the force multiplier that FAF will be looking in it’s HX program. And as F/A-18 E/F/Gs and Loyal Wingmen are tailor made to work together I see this drone to be a force multiplier in Boening HX bid as well. It will be interesting to see how all this pans out! (And of course, were I anywhere close in my guestimates.)

 

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About epamuodikkaitaajatuksia

Reilu nelikymppinen jannu, joka on huolissaan siitä miten maanpuolustus ja turvallisuus makaa Lapissa, Suomessa ja Euroopassa. Harrastuksina Amerikkalainen jalkapallo ja SRA ammunta. A guy about 45, who has a "thang" for military current issues, defense and shooting. Not to forget American football.
This entry was posted in HX-ohjelma, ilmavoimat, in English, teknologia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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