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Construction officially underway on MQ-28 Ghost Bat production facility

An artist's impression of Boeing's new MQ-28 Production Facility to be constructed in Toowoomba, Queensland. Photo: Boeing.

Construction is officially underway at a new production facility to support the manufacture of the MQ-28 Ghost Bat uncrewed aerial vehicle; Australia’s first military combat aircraft designed and developed in over 50 years.

Construction is officially underway at a new production facility to support the manufacture of the MQ-28 Ghost Bat uncrewed aerial vehicle; Australia’s first military combat aircraft designed and developed in over 50 years.

The 9,000 square-metre facility unveiled by American defence prime Boeing at the Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct in Toowoomba, Queensland on March 26 is expected to be operational in the next three years.

The MQ-28 production facility will include aerospace manufacturing capabilities including carbon fibre composites manufacture, advanced robotic assembly for major components, final assembly and test capabilities.

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“Boeing Australia is investing to bring this innovative, uncrewed capability to market in the timeframe that supports our customers’ future needs,” according to Boeing Defence Australia managing director Amy List.

“The MQ-28 is designed to transform air combat and provide affordable mass for Australia and our allies.

“We’re partnering with the Queensland Government and Wagner Corporation to build Boeing’s first final assembly facility outside of North America – which is indicative of our global focus and a continued commitment to a sustainable and robust Australian aerospace industry.”

Boeing’s latest investment in Australia will bring new aerospace skillsets and technologies, such as advanced composites manufacturing and robotics to Queensland; according to an official statement from the company.

Queensland property and infrastructure company, Wagner Corporation will develop and manage construction of the facility at their Toowoomba precinct using sustainable construction methods, and work with Boeing to incorporate renewable technologies and human-centric design.

In addition, the MQ-28 Ghost Bat (Collaborative Combat Aircraft), formerly known as the Loyal Wingman, was allocated an additional $399 million in funding by the Federal Government earlier this year.

Part of that funding boost will enable a focus on developing sensor and mission payloads, an integrated combat system and autonomous systems.

Further development of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat comes after the government agreed with a Defence Strategic Review recommendation in 2023 to develop options for collaboration and technology sharing with the United States. In line with the government’s response, Defence signed a Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) development project arrangement with the United States on 30 March 2023.

Originally announced in 2019, the MQ-28A Ghost Bat is designed to provide a disruptive, “fighter like” performance with a range in excess of 2,000 nautical miles in a platform capable of integrating a suite of sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and electronic warfare.

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