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Australia to accelerate Ghost Bat killer drone fleet plans with $400m to build three new aircraft

Australia’s ambition to build a fleet of killer drones takes its next step, with $400 million to be spent building three uncrewed aircraft capable of carrying lethal payloads.
The Ghost Bat, the first military combat aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia for more than 50 years, is being developed by Boeing Defence Australia under contract with the Government.
More than $600 million has already been spent on the top secret drone project, building eight aircraft for prototype testing.
The MQ-28A Ghost Bat is designed to act as a “loyal wingman” providing support and armed protection of crewed aircraft, including the Super Hornet and F-35 fighter jets, or the E-7A Wedgetail and P-8 Poseidon surveillance planes.
As well as offering fighter-like performance, Ghost Bats would ultimately be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The majority of the new funding will be spent developing unique technology that allows the Ghost Bats to work together and in coordination with crewed aircraft on combined missions.
Ghost Bats are 12 metres long and have a range of 3700km and have been tested at Defence’s base at Woomera in South Australia.
The Defence Strategic Review recommended the Ghost Bat program be prioritised and Australia reached an agreement in March last year with the United States for collaborative development of the killer drones.
This allows the sharing of classified information and technology in the development of payloads, sensors and other system infrastructure.
Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said more than 55 Australian companies were continuing the Ghost Bat project, with more than 70 per cent of funding going to local industry.


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