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USN eyes FOC milestone for BQM-177 subsonic target

The US Navy (USN) expects its new BQM-177A Subsonic Aerial Target (SSAT) to achieve full operational capability (FOC) by the end of the current fiscal year (September 2021).

Designed to initially augment, and eventually replace, the USN's existing BQM-74E aerial target, the BQM-177A is a high-fidelity recoverable target developed by Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems to replicate subsonic anti-cruise missile threats in support of fleet training and weapon system testing and evaluation. Compared with the systems it replaces, the BQM-177A delivers longer-range, lower cruise altitudes (down to 10 ft), high speed (Mach 0.95), and greater manoeuvrability (-2 g to 9 g ).

Powered by a Safran Microturbo TRI 60-5 turbojet engine, the BQM-177A can carry a variety of internal and wing tip-mounted payloads. These include electronic countermeasures, active and passive radar augmentation, infrared, identification friend-or-foe, internal chaff and flare dispensing, threat-emitter simulators, smoke generators, and scoring systems.

Kratos has now completed delivery of 100 BQM-177A targets (US Navy)

Kratos has now completed delivery of 100 BQM-177A targets (US Navy)

The US Naval Air Systems Command's (NAVAIR’s) Aerial Targets Program Office (PMA-208) publicly accepted the first production BQM-177A target from Kratos in July 2018. Initial operational capability (IOC) was officially declared on 27 February 2019 when the BQM-177A was qualified for land-based operations on the Point Mugu sea range in California: FOC will be achieved when the BQM-177A is qualified for both land and ship-based operations.

Announcing the receipt of the 100th BQM-177A target on 19 November, Captain Molly Boron, PMA-208 programme manager, said the USN was currently activating the operational site at Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai, Hawaii, and was “positioned to successfully achieve [FOC} this fiscal year”.

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