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Australia’s first unmanned combat air vehicle will be named Ghost Bat

MQ-28A Ghost Bat Loyal Wingman ATS UCAV
Australian defense ministry file photo of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat prototype aircraft during a flight over Woomera, South Australia.

The first Australian-built unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) has successfully completed its test flights, and has officially been named at a ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley.

Previously referred to as a ‘Loyal Wingman’ UAV, the six UCAVs will be commonly known as MQ-28A Ghost Bat, as announced by the Australian defense minister Peter Dutton on Monday.

“As air warfare grows more complex and more sophisticated, remotely piloted aircraft and other unmanned 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 kilometers, it complements our deterrence objective to hold a potential adversary’s forces and infrastructure at risk from a greater distance.”

Since 2017 the government has invested more than A$150 million dollars to support the joint venture between the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Boeing Defence Australia to deliver an 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 manufacturing opportunities throughout Queensland and across Australia as production ramps up in coming years. In November last year, Boeing Australia revealed that work on five of overall six Ghost Bat aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force was underway.

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.