MilCIS 2024 728x90Boeing Australia is constructing a new production facility to manufacture the MQ-28 Ghost Bat unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), marking a major milestone in Australian aerospace manufacturing. The country’s defence minister has earlier stated that the MQ-28 is the first domestically designed, engineered, and manufactured military aircraft in over 50 years, underscoring the significance of this project. Boeing’s collaboration with Australia will not only secure jobs but also aim to bolster the local defence industry, which so far involves 55 companies across the country. To counter the growing assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific region and to promote indigenous UAV production, Australia is expected to undertake more initiatives like this over the next decade, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s report, “The Global Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Market Forecast 2023-2033,” reveals that Australia is expected to spend about $5.1 billion on the procurement of various unmanned aerial vehicles over the next 10 years. Out of which, high-altitude, long endurance (HALE) UAVs, like the MQ-28 Ghost Bat, are expected to receive up to 51% of the funding.

Aamir Chowdry, Aerospace & Defence Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “China’s growing militaristic aspirations in the Indo-Pacific are exemplified by its recent security deals with the Solomon Islands to provide armed personnel for internal policing purposes. China has also proposed a similar agreement with Papua New Guinea in 2023. These events raise concern about China’s growing influence in the region, which was previously considered under Australia’s sphere of influence.”

As the Ghost Bat can be controlled by manned aircraft like the F/A-18F Super Hornet and the EA-18G Growler, it can assume the role of a loyal wingman by venturing into potentially dangerous conflict zones far ahead of the manned aircraft. This essentially allows manned aircraft to stay outside of hostile zones, keeping the pilots safer.

Chowdry concludes: “Australia is part of a security alliance named Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) along with the US, Japan, and India. One of the objectives of this alliance, as speculated by many, is to counter any threats from China in the Indo-Pacific region. The procurement of advanced platforms like MQ-28 Ghost Bat will certainly provide an edge for the Australian Armed Forces and its allies to counter any threats and deter potential conflict in the region.”


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