Sunday, April 26, 2020


Wingman (MQ-28 Ghost Bat) Oil on linen 97 x 115 cm 2020

UPDATE: Late March 2022 the Loyal Wingman drone in Australia will now be called Ghost Bat. Here's a Boeing Youtube Video  and an article in Defence Connect online.

The Royal Australian Air Force and Boeing are collaborating to develop a new drone, a Loyal Wingman drone.The drone will fly to support manned aircraft, hence the name 'wingman'. With surveillance, stealth and weapon carrying capabilities the drone will be piloted remotely and/or by pilots in manned aircraft of various kinds. Artificial intelligence will be incorporated as a 'force multiplier' to aid an array of capabilities. This drone, when its development is finalised, will be Australia's first 'homemade' weaponisable drone. You can read more about the Loyal Wingman drone on the Boeing Airpower Teaming System site HERE  .

Added May 5 2020: Today, further news was about the Loyal Wingman drone released by Boeing. You can read that news on the Boeing site HERE

Also today May 5 2020 , an excellent overview by Tyler Rogoway of the drone "Everything We Learned From Boeing About Its Potentially Game Changing Loyal Wingman Drone" was published in The Drive

I am not going to go into more detail about the Loyal Wingman drone, because the Boeing site has it all, including videos, press releases etc.

Wingman Oil on linen 97 x 115 cm 2020
What I am going to do is write a bit about my new painting Wingman. 

In the bottom left of the painting I have painted a Loyal Wingman drone in shades of surveillance night-vision green. I have also painted Australia's Parliament House with two civilian drones hovering in the sky above it. Parliament House is suspended in space, as if it is also an aircraft, possibly the manned system my Wingman supports? In the top left I have painted a satellite, again in shades of green. And, a pale blue dot acts as a sentinel, a reminder of 'home'. All of these elements hover in a cosmic space, but invisible signals - and politics - link them all.

The painting offers open-ended, but political and provocative, narratives. It speaks to the a present and a future increasingly occupied by militarised and militarise-able technologies with persistent and ubiquitous reach. 

What do you think? What kind of stories can be told?

Finishing the satellite in Wingman

The Word 'Wingman'
The name Loyal Wingman is an intriguing one for an unmanned system. Surely the word WingMAN, in some ways, re-mans the unmanned! Traditionally a wingman was a pilot flying as support, outside or behind a lead aircraft or formation. More colloquially, a wingman is someone who acts as support  in a social situation, for example, at a bar. 

I ask, does the word wingman, in some form or other, anthropomorphise or humanise the object - the drone? If so, what does this say about subliminal or overt human desires to have relationships with technology? After all, a drone cannot desire - so - any relationships human beings think they have with drones are going to be one-sided affairs! Does the word wingman create a sense of relationship, by promising attributes of  mateship and buddyship? 

Like ascribing attributes of vision to a drone that cannot see, let alone imagine and dream, the word wingman infers a lot more than protection. What kinds of dangers lurk when we humanise drones and other technologies by giving them names, and ascribing attributes, that denote human capabilities? 

AND, what about the word loyal? Surely a wingman is meant to be loyal, so why re-enforce loyalty in the name of a sensored, but not sentient, object? 

And, as always there is a lot more to ponder, but I will leave it to you now!


I've previously written about potential problems associated with humanising or embodying the drone. Please visit my previous post with lots of paintings The Drone: Do Not Embody


Other paintings and posts that intersect with Wingman


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