July 12, 2012 defpro.com
To meet the needs to test and train using realistic airborne targets, FMV has procured a new Aerial Target System. “We will now have the most advanced type of drone in Europe. It is good for the Swedish defense, and it also increases our ability to sell services to others”, says FMV's program manager, Thomas Gustafsson.
Fighter pilots, air defense and the Navy all have a need to practice on air targets under such a set of real-life conditions as possible. The defense industry also needs to test various weapon systems on realistic air targets. Here is where FMV's new Aerial Target System comes into the picture.
The need for a new Aerial Target System has emerged gradually. Partly because the available number of missiles is getting too small, and partly because new standards for performance and characteristics have been in demand from customers at FMV's test site in Vidsel, Sweden, where the Aerial Target System is being used.
Half of the customers at the Vidsel test site are from the Swedish Armed Forces, and FMV's own testing of required materiel. The other half is sold to Swedish and foreign industry, and foreign armed forces.
"The new Aerial Target System allows for a higher top speed, better maximum turning capacity, and a higher maximum altitude. Another significant difference is that the system is fully mobile. Two Aerial Targets can also operate in the air simultaneously. This allows us to match today's materiel both technically and tactically in a better way," says program manager, Thomas Gustafsson.
THOROUGH STUDY AND COMPETITIVE PROCUREMENT
Studies of the Aerial Target System available on the market, future customer demand, and cost considerations yielded the result that the most cost- effective and appropriate way to operate the system was that the FMV unit Test and Evaluation remain in operation. The alternative in the study was that an external supplier should be responsible for this.
In June of 2012 after a competitive procurement, FMV signed an agreement with the U.S. company, Composite Engineering Inc. for the Aerial Target System BQM167i.
The contract includes both goods and services:
• Eight Aerial Targets with ground control system
• Launchers and launching equipment
• Support during the establishment at the Vidsel test site
• Technical support
• Certification, training and delivery
During the coming year FMV in conjunction with the Flight Safety Authority will carry out all necessary activities to have the system certified according to the Swedish Rules of Military Aviation. Extensive training will be conducted for the staff at T&E, (both technical and operational) to manage and to be responsible for the system.
The Aerial Target System is expected to be operational in October 2013. The old and the new systems will be operated in parallel with a gradual dismantling of the old system up to 2016.
An Aerial Target starts from a ramp and uses boosters in addition to the jet engine, to provide quick access to air.borne speed. Each Aerial Target costs about SEK 5 million. Therefore the firing normally is carried out on targets towed by the Aerial Target.
Each Aerial Target can then be used many times. Sometimes there are requirements for the target to perform in a more advanced way, which is accomplished by allowing the shooting directly at the Aerial Target. After the flight the Aerial Target uses a parachute for landing.
Since 1958 FMV's test site in Vidsel has operated a number of different systems as targets for air missiles when fired from aircraft, and also surface to air missiles when fired from the ground.
The Aerial Target System RB06B was purchased in 1986 from Raytheon in the U.S. and was preceded by a version that was purchased in 1977. Examples of Performance: maximum speed M 0.8, max turning capacity of 6g and maximum altitude of 12,000 meters.
The BQM167i is an adjusted and modified version of the BQM167A version used by the U.S. Significant differences to the RB06B include a higher top speed (M0.9), better maximum turning capability (9g) and a higher maximum altitude (15,000 m). The ability to tow targets and to bear external payloads corresponds to the ability of today's RB06B.