US Navy’s new subsonic aerial target reaches initial operational capability

BQM-177A, the US Navy’s next-generation subsonic aerial target (SSAT) has reached initial operational capability (IOC) and is now ready to begin land-based operations in Point Mugu, California.

A BQM-177A Sub-Sonic Aerial Target (SSAT) prepares for flight test in May 2017 from Point Mugu, Calif. Photo: US Navy

When it reaches full operational capability, it will conduct both land and ship-based operations.

The BQM-177A provides realistic threat representation for developmental and operational testing of major DoD and international weapon systems.

“BQM-177A represents the current threats to our forces and delivers improvements in speed and maneuverability to the subsonic target inventory,” said Capt. Molly Boron, Navy Aerial Targets (PMA-208) program manager. “I am proud of the collaborative work between our subsonic integrated product team and the operators at Pacific Targets and Marine Operations for reaching this milestone.”

BQM-177A is a recoverable target that will replace the legacy recoverable BQM-74E target with a modernized subsonic target with increased capabilities.The target is capable of speeds in excess of 0.9 Mach and a sea-skimming altitude as low as 10 feet.

The targets are delivered by Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems.