Saab has recently unveiled a supersonic, stealthy ‘loyal wingman’ drone concept, as part of its Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program. The drone, which has been designed for high-speed, low-observable missions, features an efficient and sleek blended wing/body configuration.
The emphasis of Saab’s FCAS effort is on swift, cost-effective aerodynamic development. It uses computational fluid dynamics tools and exploits additive manufacturing techniques. The aerodynamic evolution of this loyal wingman design makes radar signature reduction and structural optimization a priority.
In December 2021, wind-tunnel tests were conducted on this concept, and it unveiled a single-engine design that is centred on a low radar signature and beyond visual range air-to-air missions. Even though the drone has supersonic capabilities, it comprises internal weapon bays that challenge the conventional design paradigms.
The wind tunnel L-2000 at KTH in Stockholm was the selected venue for the testing. The model for the wind tunnel was exclusively designed using 3D printed PA2200 plastic, apart from the load-bearing framework which was constructed from aluminum.
Despite the doubtful participation of Saab in European combat drone initiatives like Team Tempest and GCAP, the supersonic loyal wingman concept introduces a distinctive combination of top-tier performance and stealth features. The possible integration of such drones with already existing platforms such as the Gripen E could bring about a transformative shift in air combat dynamics, heightening tactical adaptability and mission effectiveness.
The concept from Saab challenges traditional perspective by delivering an expensive but powerful option for combat airforces. With its sophisticated abilities and potential to enhance both fourth and fifth-generation fighters, the Saab Loyal Wingman marks a notable progress in drone technology, setting itself to redefine current aerial warfare.
Come and let us know your thoughts on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, and don’t forget to sign up for our weekly additive manufacturing newsletter to get all the latest stories delivered right to your inbox.