Boeing's Loyal Wingman drone is now officially the MQ-28A Ghost Bat
Boeing's Loyal Wingman is now officially the "MQ-28A Ghost Bat." The new military designator and name that will be used by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for the autonomous combat drone was announced during a ceremony at the Amberley Royal Australian Air Force Base in Queensland today.
Giving the Loyal Wingman an official name may seem trivial, but it represents two major steps for the program. Being named after a native Australian bat, it acknowledges the first Australian-produced military combat aircraft in over half a century, and it also shows that the drone is moving out of the experimental phase and into a path for full deployment with the RAAF and sales to international customers.
Taking only three years from the first design to first flight, the Ghost Bat's rapid development owes much to Boeing Australia's use of digital engineering and advanced manufacturing techniques. When in service, the autonomous combat craft will have the performance and range comparable to that of a conventional fighter aircraft. This will allow it to carry out single missions and team with other crewed or uncrewed aircraft.
However, there are still some steps left to take before the Ghost Bat joins the Air Force. Boeing says that the next phase will concentrate on improving sensor and mission capabilities to meet RAAF commitments.
"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," said Glen Ferguson, director Airpower Teaming System Australia and International. "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."