Airbus Unveils Concept of MQ-28 Ghost Bat Rival at Berlin Aerospace Exhibition

11 Jun, 2024 | News

Airbus has introduced its contender to rival Australia’s MQ-28 Ghost Bat at the International Aerospace Exhibition in Berlin. The new Wingman 1-to-1 concept model was displayed from June 5–9, showcasing its advanced capabilities and potential.

(Image: Airbus)

Advanced Capabilities of the Wingman Concept Model

The Wingman concept model is designed to enhance current manned combat aircraft with unmanned platforms equipped to carry weapons and other effectors. It features low observability, advanced sensors, connectivity, and teaming solutions.

Presentation at Berlin Air Show

Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, highlighted that the Wingman model was displayed in Berlin akin to an automotive industry ‘show car’—a design exercise showcasing potential features, not all of which may enter series production.

“The German Air Force has expressed a clear need for an unmanned aircraft to support its manned fighter jets before the Future Combat Air System becomes operational in 2040,” Schoellhorn explained. “Our Wingman concept is our response to this need. We aim to refine this innovation, ensuring it offers the German Air Force a cost-effective solution that enhances the performance and multiplies the power of its fighter fleet for the 2030s.”

Operational Concept and Capabilities

The Wingman operates as a drone commanded by a pilot in current combat aircraft, such as the Eurofighter. It handles high-risk missions that pose significant threats to manned aircraft, thus providing additional tactical options and contributing to mission success.

Tasks assigned to the Wingman include reconnaissance, jamming targets, and engaging ground or aerial targets with precision-guided munitions or missiles. Pilots in manned aircraft, acting as ‘command fighters,’ retain control of the mission and make final decisions, benefiting from the protection and reduced risk provided by unmanned systems.

Strategic and Tactical Advantages

The introduction of the Wingman aims to affordably increase the overall combat mass, enabling air forces to match the number of opposing forces in peer or near-peer conflicts. This strategy ensures that the German Air Force remains competitive and capable in various operational scenarios.

Driving Innovation and Design

The model displayed at ILA Berlin serves as a foundation for developing design requirements for future generations of the Wingman. This innovation is expected to drive the evolution of unmanned systems within the German Air Force, offering a versatile and powerful addition to its combat capabilities.

By integrating unmanned systems like the Wingman, air forces can enhance their tactical flexibility and mission effectiveness, ensuring a robust and dynamic response to emerging threats and operational demands.



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