MissionTo provide aerial targets for Army, DoD and other nations’ weapons system developmental and operational testing.
Aerial Targets’ mission is accomplished by two major target categories: High Speed Aerial Targets (HSAT) and Medium Speed Aerial Targets (MSAT). Current HSATs are: MQM-107 Streaker, BQM-34 Firebee, and MQM-178A Firejet. The MQM 107 Streaker and BQM-34 Firebee are turbojet-powered drones capable of reaching speeds of up to 575 miles per hour (mph) at altitudes up to 40,000 feet, or about 10,000 feet higher than the average cruising altitude of a 747 commercial airplane. Both targets are launched from zero-length launchers using Rocket Assisted Take-Off (RATO) motors that fall away after boosting the target to flight speed. The MQM-178A (Firejet) is a pneumatically launched target capable of speeds up to 400 mph at altitudes up to 35,000 feet. These targets are controlled by the Army Ground Aerial Target Control Systems (AGATCS) and are recoverable via parachute if not shot down. The targets are used to test various surface-to-air missile systems, such as the Stinger and Patriot, as well as train anti-aircraft artillery crews.
Current MSATs are the MQM-175A (DT-35) and the MQM-175B (DT-45). These targets fly at lower speed and altitude than HSAT, but more cost effective to procure and operate. These targets are launched from a hybrid hydraulic/pneumatic launcher that accelerates the target up a short ramp, has a stand-alone control system and is capable of flying at several hundred miles per hour at altitudes up to 20,000 feet. They can be parachute-recovered and reused as well.
Both HSAT and MSAT systems are transportable to TMO-supported test missions at locations around the world. TMO is examining alternative systems to replace or supplement HSAT and MSAT fleets in an effort to continue to provide affordable Aerial Target missions in the future.
- Aerial Targets Flight Services
- FY15: MQM-178A Firejet acceptance completed
- FY20: New start for a replacement High Speed Aerial Target