US Naval Air Systems Command has awarded Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems a $14.7 million contract to continue supporting its BQM-177A Subsonic Aerial Targets (SSAT).

The agreement includes software engineering services, including analysis, modification, and software changes for the SSAT system, according to the contract notification released by the Department of Defense.

Work for the project will be performed in California and Arizona and is expected to be complete by July 2027.

“This award provides the foundation to continue our work with the Navy, maturing and evolving the SSAT aircraft on pace with the threat environment,” Kratos Unmanned Systems Division President Steve Fendley said.

“This enables us to collectively provide the training to stress and exercise our fleet prior to their deployments to increasingly challenging theaters of operation, ultimately strengthening our nation’s defense and helping protect the warfighter,” Fendley added.

The award follows the US Navy’s confirmation of the BQM-177A’s full operational capability during a joint maritime exercise in the Philippine Sea this month.

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

The target drone was delivered to the navy in 2018 and completed multiple flight tests in 2021.

BQM-177A Target Drone

Kratos designed the BQM-177A SSAT to imitate advanced subsonic anti-ship cruise missile threats for testing shipboard air-to-air defense systems.

It can deploy at a maximum speed of Mach 0.95 (1,173 kilometers/727 miles per hour).

The drone can achieve a sea-skimming altitude as low as 6.6 feet (2 meters).

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