The first Australian-built aircraft in more than 50 years has been officially named in a ceremony held at RAAF Base Amberley on March 21.

The winning name for the Airpower Teaming System was chosen by Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, from 733 entries received after a naming competition was held for all serving Air Force personnel and cadets.

Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Robert Denney, said he was delighted to announce the Airpower Teaming System name: MQ-28A Ghost Bat.

“Congratulations to the joint winners of the naming competition, Corporal David Grieger and Flight Sergeant Stephen Barchard, who both submitted the winning name ‘Ghost Bat’, which best reflects the mission and operational capabilities of the aircraft,” Air Vice-Marshal Denney said.  

“A ghost bat is an Australian hunter that uses sophisticated multi-spectral sensors to detect, hunt and kill prey both in the air and on the ground. They team together in large numbers to confuse and overwhelm their adversaries and are native to Australia.”

Corporal Grieger, a medical technician at No. 1 Expeditionary Health Squadron Detachment in Townsville, said he was chuffed to be named one of the winners and said it was a bit tricky to come up with a name that hadn’t already been used, yet still sounded cool. 

“I wanted to stick with an Australian animal as the aircraft is designed and produced here,” Corporal Grieger said.

“There were lots of fun names, like Quokka, but they weren’t very well suited to an unmanned aerial vehicle. I listed off a bunch of animals and birds of prey and then whittled them down to just the two- or three-syllable ones. I tried to pick one that used some sort of advanced prey tracking.”

Flight Sergeant Barchard, of No. 82 Wing, said he chose the name because it was the only Australian bat that preyed on both land-dwelling and airborne animals. He also said the aircraft could be configured to electronic warfare, which links to the Joint Electronic Warfare Operational Support Unit, whose symbol is the ghost bat.

Corporal Grieger and Flight Sergeant Barchard have both been lucky enough to see a ghost bat in person.

“While posted to RAAF Base Tindal, my wife and I visited the nearby Cutta Cutta Caves a couple of times. The caves are home to a colony of the little critters and we saw and heard them there,” Corporal Greiger said.

The two winners of the naming contest were invited to take part in the ceremony, where they were presented with a certificate and a small-scale model of ‘Ghost Bat’.

When asked how it felt to win the competition, Flight Sergeant Barchard said he still had a sore back from all the congratulatory backslaps from his colleagues.

Air Vice-Marshal Denney said that while there were a range of fantastic entries, there could only be one name for the autonomous aircraft. 

“Thank you to everyone who took part in the naming competition, there were certainly some amazing names put forward for the Chief of Air Force to choose from,” Air Vice-Marshal Denney said. 

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