Boeing’s Australian-produced Uncrewed Aircraft named “MQ-28A Ghost Bat”.
Australia’s Defence Minister, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, announced the selection of ‘MQ-28A Ghost Bat’ as the military designator and name for the first Australian-produced military combat aircraft in over 50 years, during a dedicated ceremony held at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, Australia.
Ghost Bat is the name of an Australian native mammal known for teaming together in a pack to detect and hunt. Therefore, the selection of this designation “reflects the unique characteristics of the aircraft’s sensors and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance abilities, and is a fitting name for this pioneering capability,” said Glen Ferguson, director Airpower Teaming System Australia and International.
— Boeing Australia (@BoeingAustralia) March 21, 2022
Interestingly, although the Australian designation has been decided, meaning that the RAAF Loyal Wingman development program name will phase out, Boeing’s product name for global customers will remain the Airpower Teaming System. In fact, while the Loyal Wingman was designed primarily for the RAAF, the final version of the ATS will be destined to the global defense market and custom tailored to the client’s own defense and industrial objectives.
Dealing with the Australian MQ-28 Ghost Bat, as we reported last year, two unmanned aircraft successfully completed separate test flights at the Woomera Range Complex, including the second flight of the first ATS aircraft and the maiden flight of the second aircraft built.
The first batch of Loyal Wingman aircraft are serving as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System. While initially only three aircraft were being built, after the first flight in February 2021, the RAAF signed a new contract for three additional aircraft, bringing the total to six aircraft. The contract will support the maturation of the aircraft design, evolution of current and future payloads, and create the sustainment system for the aircraft in operations. Boeing Australia confirmed in Q4 2021 that the fifth ATS aircraft was already in production.
As mentioned in our past articles about the Boeing ATS here at The Aviationist, one of the key features of the unmanned aircraft recently named MQ-28A Ghost Bat is an 8.5 ft (2.6 m) long modular nose cone with 9,000 cubic inches internal volume to house different payloads. The entire nose can be swapped quickly according to the mission’s needs and also to the customer’s needs. Boeing states on its website that the ATS will integrate sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, tactical early warning missions and more.