Boeing has unveiled that its Loyal Wingman is now officially the “MQ-28A Ghost Bat.” The new military designator and name for the first Australian-produced autonomous military combat aircraft were announced during a ceremony at the Amberley Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base in Queensland.
Giving the Loyal Wingman an official name shows that the drone is moving out of the experimental phase and into a path for full deployment with the RAAF and sales to international customers. First unveiled to the world in May 2020, the MQ-28A Ghost Bat is the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years.
With a rapid development timetable of just three years from first design to first flight, the development program leverages advancements in digital engineering, advanced manufacturing, and unique Australian supply chain technologies. The MQ-28A Ghost Bat combat drone uses AI to help both manned and unmanned aircraft in mid-air. It will have a performance and range comparable to that of a conventional fighter aircraft when in service.
“The introduction of the new popular name is a rare and special moment in aviation history for our RAAF partners and industry team of over 35 Australian suppliers,” said Glen Ferguson, director of Airpower Teaming System Australia and International. “Selecting the Ghost Bat, an Australian native mammal known for teaming together in a pack to detect and hunt reflects the unique characteristics of the aircraft’s sensors and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance abilities and is a fitting name for this pioneering capability.”
Boeing says during 2022, the program will continue to accelerate the development and testing of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat, with a focus on sensor and missionisation capabilities to deliver on RAAF commitments. These requirements will continue to expand as Boeing moves towards the aim of delivering an operational capability for the ADF.