Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has secured a $49m full rate production (FRP) contract from the US Navy for Lot 4 of the BQM-177A Subsonic Aerial Target (SSAT).

This contract is intended for the procurement of 55 aircraft, mission kits, some flight consumables, and technical data.

Since early 2000s, Kratos has been an aerial target system provider. It claims to have delivered more than 1,000 high performance jet target aircraft.

BQM-177A is an advanced, high-subsonic, recoverable aerial target system manufactured by Kratos.

Kratos Unmanned Systems Division president Steve Fendley said: “For the US Navy, following the first full-rate production award in October 2020, the combined Navy-Kratos team has completed activation of all four operational sites around the globe; delivered an additional 77 BQM-177A subsonic aerial target (SSAT) air vehicles; and declared full operational capability.”

Fendley further added: “This announcement marks the next step in our continuing efforts to provide world class training capabilities to the US Navy and its allied and coalition partners for the next several decades and beyond.”

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For this contract, the work will be mainly undertaken at Kratos’ facilities in Sacramento, California, and Ft. Walton Beach in Florida.

If the options for Lots 5, 6, and 7 are all exercised at the maximum production quantities, the value of the total contract would be $227.6m.

US Navy’s Aerial Targets programme office (PMA-208) programme manager Don Blottenberger said: “The BQM-177 is quickly becoming a workhorse of the Navy targets inventory. Target presentations have never been more important than they are right now based on real world events and new capabilities under development.

“It provides reliable presentations of evolving missile and aircraft threats to test our developmental weapon systems and provide training to our deploying sailors preparing to go into harm’s way. The hard work of the team — one team across Kratos and the Navy Aerial Targets office — will provide cost effective, quality target presentations through the next decade.”

In September 2022, the US Navy declared full operational capability (FOC) for its next-generation BQM-177A.

This milestone was achieved during Standard Missile (SM) 2 exercise Pacific Vanguard 2022 (PV 22) undertaken in the Philippine Sea.

In December 2021, Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems received a sole source contract worth $50m for the acquisition of 65 BQM-177A.