Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems Inc., Sacramento, California, is awarded a $50,917,490 contract modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract. This modification exercises an option to procure 65 BQM-177A Subsonic Aerial Targets, 50 for the Navy, seven for the government of Japan, and eight for the government of Saudi Arabia, as well as associated technical and administrative data in support of full rate production lot three. Work is expected to be completed in February 2024. Fiscal 2022 weapons procurement funds in the amount of $37,600,608; fiscal 2021 weapons procurement funds in the amount of $1,566,692 that were Foreign Military Sales (FMS) funds converted to weapons procurement for the replacement of two targets expended by the government of Australia; and FMS funds in the amount of $11,750,190 will be obligated at time of award. The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
BQM-177A is an advanced, high-subsonic, recoverable aerial target system designed and manufactured by Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, a US-based developer of advanced technology solutions for the armed forces of the US and its allied nations. 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. The primary mission of the BQM-177A target is to emulate real-world enemy anti-ship cruise missiles. The aircraft can also be deployed to provide training for naval aviators in testing and evaluation of new weapon systems during air-to-air combat operations. The unmanned system is designed to fulfil the weapons-release training requirements of the US Air Force and the US Navy.
BQM-177A features a flexible design and is built using advanced materials. Its high-mounted main wings are swept rearwards to provide improved aerodynamic performance. The tail structure is arranged in a conventional configuration, with rearward swept horizontal stabilisers. A rocket-assisted take-off system is used for launching the target system, while its recovery either from land or water is performed using a parachute recovery system. The target can be deployed in either manual or autonomous mode. It is controlled by the operator in the manual mode, whereas the vehicle is guided by pre-programmed flight maps in the autonomous mode of operation. The BQM-177A target is usable for multiple flights.
The BQM-177A is powered by a TR 60-5 turbojet engine, which is capable of generating 1,000lb of thrust. The unmanned target system can attain a maximum speed of 0.95Mach. It is capable of operating at 3.1m above ground level (AGL) and 12,192m above mean sea level (MSL). It can carry out sea-skimming threat emulation at altitudes as low as 3.1m. BQM-177A’s on-board fuel tank has the capacity to store 238.5l of fuel, while the smoke oil carrying capacity of the aerial target is 8l. The export variant of the BQM-177A aerial target, designated BQM-177i, is intended for international defence customers. It incorporates a similar design configuration of its base version and acts as a formidable target during firing training sessions. In November last year, Kratos delivered the 100th production BQM-177A SSAT system to the NAVAIR.