Kratos Defense & Security Solutions' Unmanned Systems Division (USD) has secured a contract from the US Navy in support of low-rate initial production year 1 (LRIP 1) for BQM-177A subsonic aerial target (SSAT) drone systems.

The latest contract has an initial value of $34.5m, and is an amendment to a previously awarded deal to exercise an option for LRIP 1.

The company has also secured another contract with an initial value of $2.5m to deliver contractor logistics support (CLS) for fiscal year (FY) 2017.

Several other separate contracts for peculiar support equipment, initial systems spares, external payload systems and flight consumables are set to be awarded to Kratos in the near future.

The BQM-177A is one of the highest performing unmanned aerial drone systems in the world, and features unmatched flight performance characteristics in a wide range of major mission areas.

SSAT LRIP 1 is the initial annual production order for the unmanned aerial target drone system, which has recently completed development.

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The order coincides with the US Department of Defense (DoD) Budget for the FY 2017.

"We are extremely proud of the performance capabilities of this target aircraft, arguably the most capable and manoeuvrable low-altitude high-subsonic unmanned aircraft in existence."

Kratos USD president Steve Fendley said: “We are extremely proud of the performance capabilities of this target aircraft, arguably the most capable and manoeuvrable low-altitude high-subsonic unmanned aircraft in existence.

“Transitioning to production is a significant milestone for our team, and with this achievement it delivers a much needed capability to the navy in supporting our country's national security requirements.”

The BQM-177A has been designed to replace the existing BQM-74E Chukar Targets, and is capable of delivering longer range, lower cruise altitudes and greater manoeuvrability.

The drone system can support several mission requirements by carrying a wide range of internal and wing-tip mounted payloads, including electronic counter measures, active and passive radar augmentation, infrared, identification friend or foe, internal chaff and flare dispensing, threat emitter simulators, smoke and scoring.

Image: BQM-177A. Photo: courtesy of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc.