Albanese Government invests further $400 million in next generation loyal wingman drone

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The Hon Pat Conroy MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for International Development and the Pacific

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Karlis Salna (Minister Conroy's Office) - 0435 521 326 -

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9 February 2024

The Albanese Government has secured hundreds of highly skilled jobs while driving innovation in Australia’s local defence industry with the allocation of an additional $399 million for the ongoing development of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat.

The MQ-28A Ghost Bat, known as a Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA), is being developed in cooperation with Boeing Defence Australia. It is the first military combat aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years.

An entirely new technology, it is designed to act as a loyal wingman which will be able to protect and support our military assets and pilots and undertake a wide range of activities across large distances, including performing combat roles.

The Government is now moving forward with the next stage of the program, including delivery of three Block 2 aircraft which have an enhanced design and improved capabilities. This funding boost will enable a focus on developing sensor and mission payloads, an integrated combat system and autonomous systems.

The additional funding announced today also secures over 350 jobs across Australia and will ensure ongoing work for over 200 suppliers, supporting the local defence industry and further contributing to well-paid employment opportunities for Australians.

The further development of MQ-28A Ghost Bat comes after the Government agreed with a Defence Strategic Review recommendation that options be developed for collaboration and technology sharing with the United States. In line with the Government’s response, Defence signed a CCA development project arrangement with the United States on 30 March 2023.

More than 70 per cent of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat delivery program is being directed towards Australian industry content, delivering substantial benefits to local companies and their highly skilled workforces.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Pat Conroy MP:

"This is the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years and underscores the depth of innovation and expertise in our defence industry. 

"More than 200 Australian companies have already contributed to the MQ-28A program, including more than 50 small and medium enterprises within the supply chain. This project demonstrates that with the appropriate support from government, Australia’s defence industry can continue to be a world leader and a key source of jobs.

“The prosperity and security of our nation and will always be a top priority for the Albanese Government. That’s why giving our Air Force the critical capabilities it needs to protect Australians, and their interests, is paramount.”

Media note

Imagery is available from Defence Imagery: Search: S20213574.

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