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Boeing Phantom Works MQ-28A (Ghost Bat)

Loyal Wingman / Attritable UAS [ 2026 ]

Formerly known as Air Power Teaming System, the Boeing Phantom Works has been officially designated the MQ-28A Ghost Bat.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/30/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

For decades, warplanners have envisioned skies where drones would fly side-by-side with manned warplanes, augmenting existing capabilities of latter aircraft types. Boeing, with assistance from the Australian government and Australian local industry, has gone on to unveil the "Airpower Teaming System" (ATS), a modular Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) intended to provide a budget-concious unmanned solution to American and Australian allies. The air vehicle is to work in conjunction with existing, current-generation Boeing products like the "Super Hornet" multirole naval fighter and the newer P-8 "Poseidon" maritime patroller.

The drone's development is being headed by Boeing's own Phantom Works International division and was debuted at the Australian Avalon Air Show in February of 2019. A technology demonstrator is planned next under the "Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program" (LWADP) and the end-goal is to produce an air vehicle capable of completely autonomous direction under Artificial Intelligence (AI) operating with manned aircraft or independently as needed.

The product is made possible through funds provided, in part, by the Australian government (nearly $30 million USD over the course of four years) with direct support from the Royal Australia Air Force (RAAF) with an eye towards local Australian production of the completed, production-quality air system (this to involve names like BAe Systems Australia). Foreign involvement in the product also eases availability and procurement for interested foreign parties as is the case with other foreign Boeing projects like the "Wedgetail" program (now flying with South Korea and Turkey). Additionally, the program helps to evolve a growing and maturing local Australian defense industry to meet future requirements as well as self-sustainment goals.

The finalized ATS design will carry an existing lightweight turbofan engine currently of unknown make, model, and output. It is estimated with a range equal to 2,300 miles (2,000 nautical miles), able to operate over land and water with equal effectiveness. The current appearance of the aircraft (largely engineered in Australia) showcases an extended nose section, side-mounted intakes aspirating the sole engine installation, shoulder-mounted wing mainplanes, and a "V-style" tail unit (no horizontal tailplanes are featured). The mainplanes have an unbroken, sweptback leading edge and compound trailing edge that is both swept forward (inboard panel) and sweptback (outboard panel). "Chining" is used about the edges of the fuselage to promote inherent "stealthiness" and a traditional tricycle undercarriage (retractable) is featured for ground-running. As currently drawn up, the air vehicle has an overall length of 38 feet though other dimensions remain under wraps.

Internally, the mission payload of the drone will encompass various Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) fits through a modular systems approach - making for quick exchanges of equipment as needed per sortie. Beyond this, the ATS will have an Electronic Warfare (EW) capability to further enhance its over-battlefield value.

If the ATS program comes to fruition, it will usher in a new era of unmanned warfare, the next logical step in achieving a battlefield that involves AI and drone aircraft fighting side-by-side with their human overlords. Eventually, the battlefield may very well become dominated by unmanned vehicles in whole - leaving humans completely out of the equation.©MilitaryFactory.com
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February 2020 - The first major fuselage component of the ATS has been completed by Boeing Australia.

April 2020 Power-on status of the ATS has been achieved, marking a major milestone in the unmanned aircraft program between the United States and Australia.

May 2020 - The ATS is set to be unveiled by Boeing on May 5th, 2020.

September 2020 - The ATS has run its engines for the first time.

October 2020 - Beoing Australia has successfully completed the first taxi test of its Airpower Teaming System.

March 2020 - The ATS drone has flown for the first time on March 1st, 2021.

November 2021 - A second, flyable Loyal Wingman aircraft has begun its flight testing phase.

March 2022 - The Air Power Teaming System has officially been designated the MQ-28A "Ghost Bat".

May 2022 - The RAAF has committed an additional $454 million USD to the Loyal Wingman Program and intends to purchase an additional seven of the vehicles. A third airframe is now being readied for flight testing to happen sometime during 2022.

March 2023 - Australia has increased its procurement stock of MQ-28 UASs to 10 airframes.

May 2023 - the Ghost Bat prototype has been photographed in the United States for the first time.


Boeing Company / Boeing Australia - USA / Phantom Works International; BAe Systems - Australia
Australia (ordered); United States (probable)
Operators National flag of Australia National flag of the United States
Service Year
National Origin
Project Status

Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.

Houses, or can house (through specialized variants), radar equipment for searching, tracking, and engagement of enemy elements.
Mainplanes, or leading edges, features swept-back lines for enhanced high-speed performance and handling.
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Design covers the three all-important performance categories of speed, altitude, and range.
Ability to operate over ocean in addition to surviving the special rigors of the maritime environment.
Design features ability to fly sans pilot, actions controlled onboard through programming and / or ground-based operator.
Design features autonomous flight operations made possible through onboard artificial intelligence or pre-programming.
Payload supports photographic equipment providing still and / or real-time image / video results.

38.0 ft
(11.58 meters)
monoplane / shoulder-mounted / swept-back
Mainplane Arrangement
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represents the most popular modern mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted at the upper section of the fuselage, generally at the imaginary line intersecting the pilot's shoulders.
The planform features wing sweep back along the leading edges of the mainplane, promoting higher operating speeds.

1 x Turbofan engine of unknown make, model, and thrust output.
2,302 miles
(3,705 km | 2,001 nm)
None. Mission arrangement consists of equipment centered on the Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) role utilizing a modular approach.

MQ-28A "Ghost Bat" - Official designation unveiled in March of 2022.
ATS ("Airpower Teaming System") - Original Base Program Name.

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Image of the Boeing Phantom Works MQ-28A (Ghost Bat)
Image from Boeing press release / marketing materials.
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Image of the Boeing Phantom Works MQ-28A (Ghost Bat)
Image from Boeing press release / marketing materials.

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