The RAAF has announced the under-development Loyal Wingman aircraft is set to be formally known as the ‘MQ-28A Ghost Bat’.
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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.
According to Defence, the Australian government has invested some $150 million to support the venture between Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force.
“As air warfare grows more complex and more sophisticated, remotely piloted aircraft and other uncrewed platforms are becoming increasingly vital assets for modern militaries,” Minister for Defence Peter 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 kilometres, it complements our deterrence objective to hold a potential adversary’s forces and infrastructure at risk from a greater distance.”
Boeing added in an update that during 2022, the development program will accelerate with a focus on sensor and missionisation capabilities.
Defence hopes that the development of the Ghost Bat will support the development of sovereign defence manufacturing capabilities.
“More than 35 Australian companies have contributed to the MQ-28A Ghost Bat program, with future aircraft to be produced in Toowoomba,” MIN Dutton continued.
“This is yet another example of Morrison Government’s commitment to investing in leading-edge military platforms for the ADF, strengthening Australia’s defence industry, and growing our sovereign industrial capabilities.”
This article originally appeared on Defence Connect's sister site Australian Aviation.