Land Forces 24 728x90 WEB 240202 01The Australian government announced it has allocated an additional $399 million for the ongoing development of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat. The MQ-28A Ghost Bat, known as a Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA), is being developed in cooperation with Boeing Defence Australia. It is the first military combat aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years.

Boeing MQ28 52
(PHOTO: Boeing)

An entirely new technology, it is designed to act as a loyal wingman which will be able to protect and support our military assets and pilots and undertake a wide range of activities across large distances, including performing combat roles.

The government is now moving forward with the next stage of the program, including delivery of three Block 2 aircraft which have an enhanced design and improved capabilities. This funding boost will enable a focus on developing sensor and mission payloads, an integrated combat system and autonomous systems.

The additional funding also secures over 350 jobs across Australia and will ensure ongoing work for over 200 suppliers, supporting the local defence industry and further contributing to well-paid employment opportunities for Australians. The further development of MQ-28A Ghost Bat comes after the Government agreed with a Defence Strategic Review recommendation that options be developed for collaboration and technology sharing with the United States. In line with the Government’s response, Defence signed a CCA development project arrangement with the United States on 30 March 2023.

More than 70 percent of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat delivery program is being directed towards Australian industry content, delivering substantial benefits to local companies and their highly skilled workforces.

Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said: “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. More than 200 Australian companies have already contributed to the MQ-28A program, including more than 50 small and medium enterprises within the supply chain. This project demonstrates that with the appropriate support from government, Australia’s defence industry can continue to be a world leader and a key source of jobs. The prosperity and security of our nation and will always be a top priority for the Albanese Government. That’s why giving our Air Force the critical capabilities it needs to protect Australians, and their interests, is paramount.”

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Scott Carpendale

Scott Carpendale, Vice President and Managing Director of Boeing Defence Australia, said: “The new MQ-28 Head Agreement continues our partnership with the Commonwealth of Australia, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Australian industry in developing this important Collaborative Combat Aircraft capability for Australia. Since achieving concept development to first flight in three years, we have significantly progressed the design engineering, manufacture and flight testing of MQ-28 Ghost Bat, and are applying those learnings back into our Australian production system to advance the capability. The latest agreement enables us to continue the developmental pathway of MQ-28 to prove the MQ-28 systems, including validating the mission system, payloads and operational requirements, which includes producing three Block 2 aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force.”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent news. I’m glad the rumours about the program being shelved due to lack of funding and having the development shifted to the USA (with the loss of Australian engineers involvement) appears to be unfounded. Unfortunately the lack of public facing progress on the Ghost Bat, and it’s appearance for “testing” in the USA hasn’t helped the situation. Last time we got a proper update was 2022 when we learned the first prototype made a successful flight demonstrating the landing gear and the a 2nd had just finished taxi tests. Boeing was supposed to spend 2023 testing and designing missions systems but the whole year went by with zero mention except for the DSR.

    We’ve now seen 3 different nose variants (“normal”, IRST and a mystery third) so progress is definitely being made but it’s time for some basic updates on the program at the very least.

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