F-15 Eagle spotted with a UTAP-22 Mako 'Loyal Wingman'
F-15 Eagle Seen Loaded with Loyal Wingman Drone For Previously Unknown Tests – link
Source: The Drive
- The Air Force has been quietly experimenting with air-launching Kratos Defense and Security Solutions’ UTAP-22 Mako low-cost loyal wingman drone
- The images were taken in one of the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing’s hangars—the unit is located at Tucson Air National Guard Base adjacent to Tucson International Airport
- The F-15C with a jet-powered drone attached to its left underwing pylon was photographed last winter by @tucson.plane.spotter on Instagram
- The aircraft’s intake coverings feature the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s insignia. The unit is assigned to the 57th Maintenance Group, part of the 57th Wing, which is very unique as it supports the huge range of aircraft that are hosted at Nellis Air Force Base where it calls home
- This includes various tests of developmental systems and subsystems aboard the vast majority of the Air Force’s combat aircraft fleet. It turns out that the F-15C in question was borrowed from the 142nd Fighter Wing for trials related to the UTAP-22 drone that could last to around a year
- Kratos describes the UTAP-22 as an “unmanned aircraft capable of collaborative operations with manned assets in contested environments,” a role also commonly referred to as “loyal wingman.”
- This means that the drone is primarily intended to operate at least semi-autonomously based on instructions from another aircraft with an actual pilot in it.
- Beyond their primary loyal wingman mission, the company has also demonstrated the ability for multiple Makos to work together cooperatively on their own and they could operate independently, as well
Overview & Comments
- Kratos is also the prime manufacturer of the XQ-58A Valkyrie ‘loyal wingman’
- See “US Air Force launches Skyborg competition, artificial intelligence for loyal wingman UAV”