First Australian built uncrewed combat aircraft named

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The Hon Peter Dutton MP

Minister for Defence

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Nicole Chant: +61 419 850 222

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21 March 2022

The first Australian-made uncrewed combat air vehicle has successfully completed its test flights, and has officially been named at a ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley.

Working under the title, ‘Loyal Wingman’ Minister for Defence the Hon Peter Dutton MP, today unveiled the aircraft’s official service name, “MQ-28A Ghost Bat.”

“As air warfare grows more complex and more sophisticated, remotely piloted aircraft and other uncrewed platforms are becoming increasingly vital assets for modern militaries,” Minister Dutton said.

“Our partnership with Boeing has successfully designed, manufactured and flown the first Australian-built military combat aircraft in 50 years.

“This new capability allows us to introduce more mass into the battlespace. An adversarial aircraft would not only have to contend with our crewed capability, but also numbers of uncrewed aircraft such as the MQ-28A Ghost Bat.

“The three test flight series have been successful and with a range of 3,700 kilometres, it complements our deterrence objective to hold a potential adversary’s forces and infrastructure at risk from a greater distance.”

Since 2017 the Coalition Government has invested more than $150 million dollars to support the joint venture between the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Boeing Defence Australia to deliver the world-leading air system that will team with existing air combat aircraft and conduct air combat, reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

The project is also set to generate greater advanced manufacturing opportunities throughout Queensland and across Australia as production ramps up in coming years.

“More than 35 Australian companies have contributed to the MQ-28A Ghost Bat program, with future aircraft to be produced in Toowoomba,” Minister Dutton said.

“This is yet another example of Morrison Government’s commitment to investing in leading-edge military platforms for the ADF, strengthening Australia’s defence industry, and growing our sovereign industrial capabilities.”

Royal Australian Air Force Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Robert Denney, said that the new name held special significance to the aircraft.

“The selection of the new common name Ghost Bat is a key milestone in our continuing advancement of this critical capability for Air Force, and this unique name aligns well with the intent of the aircraft.

“Ghost Bat reflects the intended mission and operational capabilities of the aircraft. A ghost bat is an Australian hunter which uses sophisticated multi-spectral sensors to detect, hunt and kill prey both in the air and on the ground.

“They team together in large numbers to confuse and overwhelm their adversaries and are native to Australia,” Air Vice Marshal Denney said.

Dr Brendan Nelson, president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific said co-investment and an enduring partnership with Defence was a key factor in the successful rapid development of the aircraft over the last three years.

“Together with the Royal Australian Air Force and our Australian industry team, we are creating cutting-edge uncrewed capabilities using local manufacturing and digital technologies to support Australia’s priority mission needs, as well as future export opportunities.”

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