The US Navy’s Aerial Target program office (PMA-208) recently completed three back-to-back test flights with its newest subsonic aerial target, BQM-177A, in preparation for full operational capability (FOC) this year.
The Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) Detachment-Far East (DET FE) carried out the operations between September 9 and 10 from the USS Barry (DDG-52) to qualify BQM-177A for training exercises at that location.
“We learned a lot from these events and to scale this capability in the future to other surface ships we now know how to move forward,” said Don Blottenberger, PMA-208 program manager. “The team did fantastic in planning and execution of the event.”
The DET FE currently fires approximately 8-10 BQM-74 targets per year and based on inventory levels, having the BQM-177A qualified at that location provides greater flexibility for the fleet to conduct training missions, he said.
Kratos, BQM-177A’s manufacturer, has delivered more than 100 targets to date. Both East and West Coast operational sites are using the targets for land-based operations. The recent tests qualify BQM-177A for both land and ship-based operations, marking its readiness for FOC.
BQM-177 replicates modern subsonic anti-ship cruise missile threats launched from air, land, surface and subsurface to test the effectiveness of shipboard air defense systems and is used for fleet training. The target is capable of speeds in excess of 0.95 Mach and a sea-skimming altitude as low as 6.6 feet.