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Update: Australia funds three MQ-28A Block 2 aircraft, key systems

The fourth and fifth MQ-28A prototypes have started flight-testing, according to a video released by Boeing. The fifth prototype (on the right) has an IRST system installed on the upper nose surface. This system was not seen on the earlier MQ-28 prototypes. (Boeing)

The Australian government has announced AUD399 million (USD259.5 million) in funding to further develop key systems for the Boeing MQ-28A Ghost Bat Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) and build three new next-generation Block 2 aircraft.

Pat Conroy, the Australian Minister for Defence Industry, said on 9 February that the “funding boost” will allow for the production of three new MQ-28A Block 2 aircraft, which will “have an enhanced design and improved capabilities”.

The Australian government is developing the MQ-28A Ghost Bat in co-operation with Boeing Defence Australia. The company is already under contract to produce 10 MQ-28A Block 1 CCAs for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). An Australian Department of Defence (DoD) spokesperson told Janes on 10 February that “eight [MQ-28A] aircraft have been manufactured to date,” and that the “further three Block 2 aircraft will be delivered along with conduct of a focused capability demonstration in late 2025”.

According to the DoD, the funding will also support the additional development of critical sensors and mission payloads on the MQ-28A, as well as an integrated combat system and autonomous systems.

“The majority of the funding will go into developing the unique Australian technology that allows the Ghost Bats to work together with each other and with crewed aircraft as one team to achieve their mission,” Conroy said.

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