So what used to be known as the loyal wingman is now known as the ghost bat, which is an australian bat living in the north of the country. However, the ghost bat is probably the first of a generation of you, calves that are going to take the skies in the 2020s Music. The mq 28a, which is the actual military designation, is a joint initiative between boeing of australia and the royal australian air force. It was first announced in february 2019, it took the skies for the first time in february 2021 and it is now which is march 2022 still undergoing development and test the short time between the beginning of the program and the first flight should not come as a Surprise, while first not being a manned aircraft, there are fewer components to develop, but it also has to undergo several fewer regulations, and this was seen as an opportunity to incorporate several new technologies. The development has also made extensive use of digital engineering, which is actually becoming more and more commonplace, so digital engineering is a fascinating subject, but this is a story for another time yeah, because the programmer has also been a test bench for digital manufacturing. In fact, the robotic assembly line has been created to deliver the second batch of aircraft. Yes, because the royal australian air force has ordered a total of six units. Okay, now these are prototypes and pre production units. The mq 28 is not ready for production, nor is ready for combat.

It looks very promising, though, because boeing and united states air force both considered the know how being developed for this project to be a prime candidate for the american skyward project. So what is left to develop? Well, it is something that every video game player will be familiar with, but im probably getting ahead of myself now, so the aircraft configuration is pretty classic with a swept back wing and an inverted sweep on the inner section of the trailing edge it sports a v Tail, which is actually quite large and it is aligned with the side of the fuselage from the pictures available. It seems that flaps and control surfaces are very simple and quite conventional. It is not lifting body, even though the shape of the fuselage suggests. That is probably going to produce some lift in the midsection boeing. Australia declared that the aircraft is going to have fighter like performances, but they gave no numbers, not even the usual very generic ones. The air intakes seem to be the assigned takes, even though the bump is very unassuming hinting at least at transonic performances. It seems to have a commercial of the shelf engine, which may mean no afterburner, for example, and quite curiously, i was unable to find any picture of the nozzles because they are well hidden behind the tail surfaces. On the flip side, it is declared to have a maximum operational range range of about 2 000 kilometers, which is quite a lot particularly for a small aircraft with small wings.

Well, unless the engine is one of those small commercial turbofans, in this case, the range would be realistic, but then a transonic performance would be unlikely. So for what we know now, performances are a bit of a puzzle. Anyway. The aircraft is also classic stealth. The usual signs of stealth are there: there are no vertical surfaces, no 90 degrees angles and the aerodynamic surfaces are platform. Aligned. Boeing went on record saying that the flying wing design would have been a better compromise for stealth and performances, but they decided to go with a traditional configuration to avoid potential flight control issues, which sounds a bit strange, but okay thats what they say so far. It doesnt seem to have a ram coating, but okay, we have seen only prototypes or pre production units, so overall is a pretty standard aircraft for the 21st century, with one notable exception, Music and no its not the absence of a pilot. So the payload of the mq 28 is particular. The aircraft is 11.7 meters long, but the front section for a length of about 2.6 meters is interchangeable. This section should be capable of carrying weapons, sensors, electronic warfare systems or, basically anything you can fit into. Depending on the specific mission, the aircraft will be configured on the ground with the appropriate section. It is definitely an interesting concept and i cant recall any other aircraft. Actually using it, if you can come up with an historical example, please let me know in the comments below they are open to everyone, so feel free to comment.

However, i think that there are at least two reasons why it has never been attempted before or if it ever was, attempted is definitely something marginal. That is, first, is about structural strength and rigidity. The interchangeable section is a big interruption of the structural integrity of the aircraft and it is introducing a weak spot about one third of the length. It is definitely possible to build joints that are robust and stiff enough, but this will likely mean some extra weight. How much weight? Well it depends on the performance of the aircraft, the highest the load factor. The heavier are going to be the joints. So if the aircraft wanted to profit from the absence of a pilot and being rated for, say, 20 gs, the weight of these joints are going to increase more than the weight of the overall structure to withstand these 20 gs. Probably the smaller aircraft size is mitigating. This problem, but i do expect the designers to have had to accept some compromises in this area. Second problem is that this solution may not allow for all the flexibility that you may expect at first sight. In fact, if the weight and the weight distribution of every different type of section changes, also, the overall position of the center of gravity of the aircraft is going to change. So the center of gravity excursion in every aircraft is determined by balance considerations on a normal aircraft. The payload is actually hung or stored near the center of gravity exactly to minimize this excursion.

Why would we do this? Well? This is an extremely important topic. The consequences of having the center of gravity moving outside the bounds that the aircraft can aerodynamically sustains, are lethal. The aircraft either dives or sits on the tail and crashes and since the nose section is in the nose so far from the position of the center of gravity. We may expect this to place some limitations in what can be placed inside this section. While im sure is not going to be a blocker, but i wouldnt be surprised to see some compromises in this area too, and by the way there is another point related to the payload that is actually worth mentioning. Some analysts have pointed out that the size of the aircraft are such that small weapons bay can be fit there. However, so far we have no indication if this has been considered or it is actually possible and in any case, if they are going to fit a sidewinder or a cuda in some side, bays im sure we will learn very soon. The aircraft is designed to be largely autonomous, but it still needs to be controlled. It doesnt need to be flown, but it still needs to be controlled. This means that the aircraft basically is designed to be told what to do in the same way. You would do in some strategy video game, the controller who could be on the ground or maybe sitting on the backseat on a dual sitter can just tell the aircraft to do a task, for example, reach a position and jam all the raiders that is finding in The area or reaching a naval formation and attack all the targets that look like a carrier or maybe simply just take off from here and land there.

How well this is going to work, and the exact level of automation well is up for anyones guess. There are obviously problems with this. For example, an order like jam all the potential threats to the controlling aircraft. How can it be executed? Are we living to the system to decide what is going to be a threat and what is not, how is it going to prioritize them or how quickly an order can be cancelled if it turns out to be the wrong one, can the system decide that an Order is wrong and overrided, for example, can it accept a surrender? Artificial intelligence has progressed enormously in the last 10 15 years, but it is still a far cry to what would be needed in these situations. The decision making capability of a human is still far superior. That of any artificial intelligence, because no artificial intelligence can have all the knowledge that a human has. It can be very quick, it can consider thousands of parameters, but it will never be trained in the same way a human is by his or her life experience. Sure a human can make mistakes, but probably the risk of an artificial intelligence. Making mistakes is potentially even worse. This is an open problem and it is dramatically open lets, consider an order like reach the coordinates, such and such and attack all the threats that come up in the area. With an order like this, we are entrusting a machine with an assessment that can put human lives at risk.

In other words, how can we be sure that the machine is never going to commit atrocities? The royal australian air force in parallel with the aircraft program, started a different program. In fact, they brought together a number of australian academics to study this issue and come up with an approach for a solution. Then the program was abruptly terminated when the results of a poll among 8 000 australian servicemen were published. It came up that the vast majority of them were feeling uneasy or were outright concerned of having to work with robotic autonomous weapons. Thank you very much for watching. If you like this video, we have plenty of them on the channel and theyre going to appear beside me. Thank you very much to all those who are supporting the channel on patreon or as members.