The US Navy has awarded a contract to Composite Engineering to provide new subsonic aerial targets (SSAT) to upgrade navy’s current capabilities in fleet readiness.

The $31.5m contract includes a three-year engineering and manufacturing development phase; two firm, fixed-price options for production; and options to provide logistics support.

The aerial targets are used by the navy as surrogates for air, land, surface and subsurface-launched anti-ship cruise missiles to test the effectiveness of shipboard air defence systems.

They are also used to ensure fleet readiness in employing air-to-air and surface-to-air missile systems.

SSATs are capable of being launched from land or sea, as well as from airborne platforms and will be fielded at multiple operating sites around the world.

The navy intends to field SSAT initially in 2015 and achieve full fielding in 2017.