Ghost Bat manufacture within 2-3 years – Boeing


Boeing Australia is planning to have the Australian production capability to move to commercial manufacture of the MQ-28A Ghost Bat unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) within two to three years.

With funding of $400 million in funding for the production of three more prototype Ghost Bats at Boeing’s Melbourne factory announced on Friday, the company expressed its confidence in being able to manufacture the aircraft at scale in Australia.

Managing Director at Boeing Defence Australia, Scott Carpendale, told a media conference he was confident of the capabilities of the Melbourne factory, a planned Australian production facility in Queensland (pictured) and its many suppliers were

Carpendale said: “Certainly there is a scale growth that we need to go through, and we’re going to be deliberate as to how we scale that to make sure we don’t break our production system.

“But we’re really confident that we’ve got the capability to produce both for the Royal Australian Air Force and for international customers in time, using the technologies that we’ve been able to harness from commercial production and from supporting other programmes.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our production plan and the use of Australian suppliers.”

Boeing Aerostructures Australia has a $5 billion, 20 year contract as sole source of supply for critical composite moveable trailing edges for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The company’s 800 staff also make 737 rudders, winglets and is the sole source for ailerons, as well as 777 cove lip doors, elevators and rudders.

Carpendale said the Ghost Bat was made possible thanks to over 55 Australian suppliers supporting the programme, including key capability partner BAE Systems Australia. SME suppliers include Ferra Engineering and RUAG Australia.

“Boeing actually has a significant history in Australia of building components and components of aircraft for commercial production out of our Melbourne facility.

“We have a large range of suppliers who actually already support production on both commercial aircraft and military aircraft across the world.

“The scale and scope of our aerospace industry is better than a lot of people give it credit for.”

Carpendale said the latest funding enabled the continued development of the aircraft and its systems, with Boeing also turning its attention to establishing a new aircraft production centre at Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba.

At the press conference the Minister for Defence Industry Pay Conroy said Australia has an agreement with the United States to share technology needed for the Ghost Bat ‘and turbo charge its development’.

Conroy said: “The best minds in the United States and the best minds in Australia are working together to develop the platforms, payloads, sensors and system infrastructure to realise the potential of teaming technology as quickly as possible.”

Further reading:
Ghost Bat UAV takes off with $400m funding
Boeing selects Wellcamp Airport for ‘first site of its kind outside North America’

Picture: Boeing production facility, Wellcamp Airport

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