Kratos Defense & Security’s unmanned systems division (USD) has successfully tested its BQM-177A subsonic aerial target (SSAT) unmanned aerial drone system at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division’s Sea Range in Point Mugu, California, US.
The latest milestone marks the first US Navy flight test under the developmental testing, series one (DTB1) flight-test campaign.
Approximately five DTB1 flights are planned in 2015.
Managed by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) aerial target and decoy systems programme office, the SSAT programme aims to meet the navy’s requirements for new high fidelity targets that imitate subsonic anti-ship cruise missile threats to support fleet training and weapon system testing and assessment.
Kratos unmanned systems division president Jerry Beaman said: "The successful DTB1 flight test is a major milestone for Kratos in one of our company’s most important programmes.
"Kratos is making a significant investment in the SSAT platform, along with our US Navy partner.
"We are working very closely together in the successful execution of this programme, and we are looking forward to continued progress as we work toward full-rate production of this unmanned aerial target drone platform."
Kratos claims that the BQM-177A, which delivers longer range, lower cruise altitudes and greater manoeuvrability, will initially supplement and ultimately replace the already deployed BQM-74E and BQM-34S Firebee targets.
Based on the company’s BQM-167X aircraft, the BQM-177A features a new fuselage with area ruling, high-mounted wings and an internally incorporated MicroTurbo TR-60-5+ turbo jet engine that trims down transonic drag.
Furthermore, the UAS is capable of supporting a range of mission requirements, by executing a range of internal and wing-tip mounted payloads such as electronic countermeasures, active and passive radar augmentation, infrared, identification friend or foe and internal chaff, in addition to flare dispensing, threat emitter simulators, smoke and scoring.
Image: The launch of BQM-177A. Photo: courtesy of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions.