The first prototype of the fifth generation aerial target (5GAT) unmanned aerial vehicle crashed during one of its first flight tests in October last year, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) revealed in its annual report.
The in-flight mishap of the first prototype on October 23 resulted in the loss of the aircraft. DOT&E said a safety investigation was underway to determine the cause of the mishap, adding that early production work for the second prototype aircraft was currently underway.
The first prototype crashed after successfully completing a series of taxi test events (15 low-speed and nine high-speed) in six days, with no interruptions or major problems at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, in September 2020.
5GAT is a full-scale, low-observable air vehicle that represents, more accurately than anything else available, the fifth-generation fighter aircraft threats US forces could face. The low-cost drone is designed to enable air-to-air and surface-to-air platform and weapons test and evaluation, pilot and ground-force training, and the development of tactics, techniques and procedures against a fifth-generation threat.
DOT&E further said in its report that the prototyping effort would provide cost-informed alternative design and manufacturing approaches for future air vehicle acquisition programs. The program will also provide verified cost data for all-composite aircraft design/development and alternative tooling approaches.
The Pentagon has requested $32.7 million in FY21 to continue development and testing of the second 5GAT prototype aircraft.