Loyal Wingman: Boeing’s Australian-produced UCAV now called MQ-28A Ghost Bat

Gastón Dubois

MQ-28A Ghost Bat Loyal Wingman unmanned aircrafts

After successfully completing its flight test campaign, the unmanned combat aircraft jointly developed between Boeing and the Australian Government, known until now as the Loyal Wingman, received the official designation MQ-28A Ghost Bat.

The naming ceremony was held at RAAF Amberley Air Force Base, where Defense Minister Hon Peter Dutton was on hand to unveil the new designation.

During the ceremony, Minister Dutton noted the growing importance of unmanned combat systems in modern and future warfare, and emphasized the importance of the Loyal Wingman project to Australia:

“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’ (more assets) into the battlespace. An adversary aircraft would not only have to contend with our manned capability, but also a number of unmanned aircraft such as the MQ-28A Ghost Bat.”

Loyal Wingman

The Loyal Wingman program

The program began in 2017 as a joint venture between the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Boeing Defence Australia to deliver an unmanned combat air system, which will team with existing fighter aircraft and perform aerial combat, reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

During testing, the Loyal Wingman prototype demonstrated it´s long range. Minister Dutton quoted the figure of 3,700 km (+2200 nm), which should yield a combat radius of 1,200 km (+745 nm), depending on the aircraft’s combat load and flight profile.

As reported by the Australian Ministry of Defense, the project will also generate more advanced manufacturing opportunities in Queensland and across Australia as production ramps up in the coming years.

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

Toowoomba was selected by Boeing as the preferred location to establish the company’s first aircraft final assembly facility outside the U.S., where the Loyal Wingman will be manufactured.

Ghost Bat?

Royal Australian Air Force Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Robert Denney, explained why the name was chosen:

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

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

Testing continues

So far, the MQ-82A demonstrated that it can fly well and safely autonomously. Boeing reports that throughout 2022, the program will continue to accelerate development and testing of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat will focus on sensor and mission capabilities to meet RAAF commitments.

Deja un comentario