Officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a $37.1 million order Tuesday to the Kratos Unmanned Systems Division in Sacramento, Calif. (formerly Composite Engineering Inc.), for low-rate initial production (LRIP) of 45 BQM-177A subsonic aerial targets.
The BQM-177A is the Navy’s next-generation subsonic aerial target (SSAT), which is designed to mimic the behaviors and radar cross sections of dynamic, high-subsonic, sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles to help naval personnel practice air-to-air engagements.
Last November Kratos Unmanned Systems officials announced achieved the final development program milestone for the BQM-177A target drone leading up to low-rate initial production.
The BQM-177A program is designed to meet the U.S. Navy's requirements for a new high fidelity target to replicate subsonic anti-cruise missile threats in direct support of fleet training and weapon system testing and evaluation.
Capable of speeds in excess of 0.95 Mach and a sea-skimming altitude as low as 10 feet above the surface of the water, the BQM-177A carries internal and external payloads including proximity scoring, identification friend or foe (IFF), passive and active RF augmentation, electronic countermeasures, infrared plume pods, chaff and flare dispensers, and towed targets.
The BQM-177A is based on the Kratos BQM-167X aircraft, a derivative of the U.S. Air Force BQM-167A Skeeter target. The BQM-177A introduces a new fuselage with area ruling, high-mounted wings, and an internally integrated MicroTurbo TR-60-5+ turbo jet engine for reduced transonic drag.
The BQM-177A will augment and later replace existing BQM-74E aerial targets, and will deliver longer range, lower cruise altitudes, and greater maneuverability than previous-generation target drones.
The BQM-177A is 17 feet long, has a 7 -foot wingspan, and weighs 620 pounds with fuel or payloads. It can fly at altitudes as low as 6.6 feet above the ground or water, and as high as 40,000 feet above sea level.
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