Boeing Unmanned Fighter Drone to Be Virtual Wingman

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Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) remains the most important stock in the Dow Jones industrial average, so any new development news from the company is closely watched by the investing community. This week Boeing announced that it introduced its newest unmanned platform, called the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.

This is an effort to make a combat drone the size of a fighter jet, and is not your normal partnered launch either as it is with the Australian military at the Australian International Airshow. Boeing called it the company’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program outside the United States.

While this might bring thoughts of Skynet and other ideas, the unmanned combat drone is effectively set to be an unmanned wingman for existing teams. Boeing indicated that the unmanned aircraft should complement and extend airborne missions through smart teaming with existing military aircraft. It’s even being touted as the Loyal Wingman.

Many of the specs may not be released for obvious reasons, but Boeing suggested that the unmanned plane would come with fighter-like performance, would measure 38 feet long and would have a range of over 2,000 nautical miles. Onboard sensors also would support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, as well as electronic warfare, and the plane would use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft.

Boeing pointed out that the plane is targeted toward international defense customers that can integrate local content in an effort to meet their country-specific requirements.

Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems, said of this launch:

The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned/unmanned missions. 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.

It remains to be seen what the exact demand would be here, but the potential may almost seem limitless, depending on how much the systems will cost and what sort of timeline is actually doable versus a potential 2020 availability.

Boeing shares were last seen trading up 1.9% at $434.95 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $292.47 to $435.41. Its Refinitiv consensus analyst target price was last seen as $440.00, and it has a market cap of $245 billion.

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