The US Navy’s BQM-177A subsonic aerial target (SSAT) has completed three test flights from the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Barry (DDG-52), off the coast of Japan.

Testing was carried out by the service’s Aerial Target program office (PMA-208) last month.

It was part of the BQM-177A SSAT’s preparation towards achieving full operational capability (FOC) this year.

In February 2019, BQM-177A reached initial operational capability (IOC) and began land-based operations in Point Mugu, California.

With support from PMA-208’s Pacific Targets and Maritime Operations team, the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) Detachment-Far East (DET FE) conducted the operations to qualify BQM-177A for training exercises.

PMA-208 programme manager Don Blottenberger said: “We learned a lot from these events and to scale this capability in the future to other surface ships we now know how to move forward.

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“The team did fantastic in planning and execution of the event.”

The DET FE currently fires 8-10 BQM-74 targets per annum.

According to Blottenberger, the qualification of BQM-177A ‘at that location’ offers the fleet with increased flexibility to execute training missions.

BQM-177A is an advanced, high-subsonic, recoverable aerial target system designed and manufactured by Kratos Defense & Security Solutions.

It replicates advanced subsonic anti-ship cruise missile threats launched from air, land, surface and subsurface.

The SSAT system tests the effectiveness of shipboard air defence systems and is used for fleet training.

Kratos has so far delivered over 100 targets.

In November last year, Kratos delivered the 100th production BQM-177A SSAT system to the NAVAIR.