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Australia loyal wingman gets new name

The newly named MQ-28A during its second test flight series at Woomera Range Complex in South Australia. (Boeing)

Boeing's loyal wingman being developed for Australia is now officially the MQ-28A “Ghost Bat”.

Australian officials said that the unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) has successfully completed its test flights. It was officially named at a ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley on 21 March.

The Australian Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton, said that the MQ-28A is the first Australian-built aircraft in nearly 50 years. The aircraft was designed, manufactured, and flown in partnership with Boeing.

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

He added that the new capability will allow the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 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,” Dutton added.

The MQ-28A has completed three test flights to date and has a range of 3,700 km. Australia said it has invested more than AUD150 million (USD111.17 million) since 2017 to support the joint venture between the RAAF and Boeing Defence Australia.

Australian officials said in a press statement that the project will generate 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 programme, with future aircraft to be produced in Toowoomba,” Dutton said.

RAAF Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Robert Denney, said that the new name holds significance.

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