The US Navy’s next-generation Sub-Sonic Aerial Target, BQM-177A, reached Initial Operational Capability late last month.

The system will begin land-based operations in Point Mugu, California.

The BQM-177A, say the US Navy, 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.

When the target reaches full operational capability, it will conduct both land and ship-based operations, say the US Navy.

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Steve
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Steve

What’s the point of a sub sonic test drone? Any realistic threat is going to be supersonic or a surface vessel which will be below the 10m range. Surely you want to test your equipment against realistic targets?

Steve
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Steve

Found answer to own question, all the main sea skimming missiles are sub sonic although do appear to have a lower flight height of 1m compared to 10, but how realistic the 1m is, with waves etc, is another question.

Nick Bowman
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Nick Bowman

…except the russian ans chinese ones. While it’s true that the Russians and Chinese have sub-sonic anti-ship missiles, their most powerful ships and subs carry supersonic, highly agile anti-ship missiles. Thats the threat that needs to be modelled.

Oscar Zulu
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Oscar Zulu

US already has the GQM-163 Coyote missile (Mach4) for those kind of simulations.

RAN’s Anzac frigates have proven intercept capability against multiple supersonic Coyotes.

Frank62
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Frank62

If only the Russians & Chinese would paint their missiles bright red & plod along at us at sub-sonic we might have half a chance. Modern ASMs can use evasive manouvres & the most dangerous are high supersonic to hypersonic, designed to attack in swarms to overwhelm our ships defences. In 10 years time we might have a similar capability, but meantime let’s carry on like peace will last forever, run down our fleet & give our new ships as little protection as we can-so long as it keeps the treasury happy. Off to the beach to bury my head… Read more »

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

Reality check . When was the last time a Supersonic anti ship missile was launched at a ship during a conflict? Answer…Never. All previous missile launches against ships have been sub sonic. So Styx, Exocet, Seersucker, Silkworm Harpoon, Siren.. The last launch if I remember correctly was by Hezbollah against an Israeli Corvette and that was probably a Silkworm. (I wonder what country that came from…) So the risk is likely to be that you are going to be facing a subsonic missile launched by a sub peer adversary. As i have said before … Supersonic and high supersonic threats… Read more »