Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force have renamed the Loyal Wingman manned-unmanned teaming drone system being developed in Australia as the MQ-28A Ghost Bat.
The Loyal Wingman development program was launched three years ago and has made rapid progress developing a manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) drone. MUM-T drones fly alongside and work with a manned fighter aircraft.
The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) military designator will be used in Australia, the Loyal Wingman name will phase out, while Boeing’s product name for global customers will remain the Airpower Teaming System.
The Ghost Bat is also the first Australian-produced military combat aircraft in over 50 years. The drone made its first test flight around during March 2021.
Australia’s Defence Minister, Peter Dutton announced the designator and name at a dedicated ceremony held at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland.
Glen Ferguson, director of Airpower Teaming System Australia and International, Boeing said, “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.
“Selecting the Ghost Bat, an Australian native mammal known for teaming together in a pack to detect and hunt, reflects the unique characteristics of the aircraft’s sensors and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance abilities, and is a fitting name for this pioneering capability.”
“Our enduring partnership with Commonwealth of Australia and Australian Defence Force is fundamental to the successful development of MQ-28A’s complex technologies and capabilities, and has global export potential for Australia,” said Brendan Nelson AO, president Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific.
During this year, the Ghost Bat program will continue to accelerate development and testing of the aircraft, with a focus on sensor and missionization capabilities to deliver on RAAF commitments. These requirements will continue to expand as Boeing moves towards the aim of delivering an operational capability for the ADF.