US Navy’s BQM-177A subsonic aerial target drone fully operational

The US Navy’s next-generation subsonic aerial target drone (SSAT) BQM-177A has reached full operational capability during a successful standard missile launch and intercept while participating in Pacific Vanguard 2022 (PV 22) in the Philippine Sea.

The target drones were launched from the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship USNS Alan Shepard (T-AKE 3) and engaged with missiles launched from Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) and Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Perth (FFH 157).

The event marked the first time the BQM-177A has been used in the Western Pacific region and highlighted the drones achieving full operational capability.

“The efforts of the team, including partnership with MSC and the target operations organizations, represents the best of our community. The BQM-177, now fully capable, will provide quality service to our warfighters for decades to come,” said Don Blottenberger, the US Navy’s Aerial Targets program manager. 

The BQM-177A is an advanced high-subsonic, recoverable aerial target system that imitates advanced subsonic anti-ship cruise missile threats to test the effectiveness of shipboard air defense systems and is used for fleet training.

It is unmatched in its performance capabilities when it comes to delivering realistic anti-ship missile threat emulation, according to program managers at Naval Air Systems Command.

US Navy has recently contracted Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems (KUAS) to deliver 65 BQM-177A SSATs. The contract modification covers the delivery of 50 subsonic aerial target drones to the US Navy. Furthermore, seven of these systems will be delivered to Japan, and eight to the government of Saudi Arabia.

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Photo: US Navy