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Loyal Wingman to be officially named ‘Ghost Bat’

written by Adam Thorn | March 21, 2022

Loyal Wingman during its second series of test flights. (FLTLT Ricky Treloar, Defence)

The RAAF has announced the under-development Loyal Wingman aircraft is set to be formally known as the “MQ-28A Ghost Bat”.

The Boeing director responsible for the AI platform’s development, Glen Ferguson, said the name reflects “an Australian native mammal known for teaming together in a pack to detect and hunt”.

Ghost Bat, first unveiled to the world in May 2020, is the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years.

It uses AI to help both manned and unmanned aircraft in mid-air, hence the Australian project name Loyal Wingman.

“The introduction of the new popular name is a rare and special moment in aviation history for our RAAF partners and industry team of over 35 Australian suppliers,” said Ferguson.

Boeing added in an update that during 2022, the development program will accelerate with a focus on sensor and missionisation capabilities.

The planemaker has partnered with the RAAF in order to create Ghost Bat, which measures 11.7 metres long, has a range of 2,000 nautical miles and can deliver fighter-like performance, while also offering intelligence capabilities.

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The drones are designed to leverage artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining a safe distance between other jets.

The Australian government initially ordered three, but has since doubled the size of the fleet, following the Loyal Wingman’s first successful flight in February 2021.

In November, Boeing announced that two Ghost Bat prototypes completed separate test flights in South Australia’s Woomera Range Complex, in the biggest milestone yet for the program.

So far, in excess of 35 local companies have worked on the program such as Whitehorse and Form 2000 – two Australian SMEs that partnered on the manufacture build-to-print components of the aircraft. Other companies include Ferra Engineering, AME Systems, Allied Data Systems and Microelectronic Technologies.

The news comes after Boeing unveiled the launch of a new final assembly facility for Ghost Bat at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport in Queensland.

The facility’s initial development is set to take place over the next 12 months. It is not yet known when the facility will be operational.

Comments (3)

  • Richard Staples

    says:

    It’s been reported that thus aircraft will fly along as a wingman with the F35. How stealthy is it? What is its top speed – about 400 km/h?. Sounds to me like it will be a useful beacon to give away the presence of the piloted plane – which will be forced to fly at very low speed to allow ol’ loyal wingman to keep up…

  • Please manufacture at least 5000 ghost bats for the Australian defence Australian defence is way to small for size of the country PLEASE.

  • Frank Wauchope

    says:

    Great to see that some money is being spent on “useful ” combat equipment.
    Now for an arsenal of drones and rockets as a shield around our coast .

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