The government of Australia has announced an additional allocation of $399 million towards the ongoing development of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat, a Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA).
Developed in tandem with Boeing Defence Australia, the MQ-28A aims to act as a so-called ‘loyal wingman’, safeguarding and assisting military assets and pilots by engaging in various missions, including combat duties.
The 11.7-meter (38-foot) long unmanned aerial vehicle will be capable of providing fighter-like performance, with a range of over 3,700 kilometers (2,000 nautical miles). Its missions will cover intelligence support, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare.
The next phase of the program will focus on delivering three Block 2 aircraft. equipped with new sensor and mission payloads, an integrated combat system and autonomous functionalities.
“This is the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years and underscores the depth of innovation and expertise in our defence industry,” said Pat Conroy, Australian Minister for the Defence Industry.
The Loyal Wingman drone successfully completed its maiden flight in March 2021. Thanks to artificial intelligence, it should eventually be able to fly both autonomously or in support of other manned or unmanned aircraft, in swarms of four to six units.
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