5GAT drone passes engine run tests

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Sacramento, California-based Sierra Technical Services has completed engine run testing of its demonstrator for the USA’s 5th Generation Aerial Target ahead of first flight tests

The target drone demonstrator, which has been in development since March 2017, is designed to be representative of stealth aircraft threats and will be used for Air-to-Air and Surface-To-Air weapons evaluation, pilot training, and ground forces training.

The “fighter-sized” 5th Generation Aerial Target (5GAT) is 12.2m (40ft) long, a 7.3m wingspan and a maximum gross weight of 4,350kg (9,600lb). It is designed to be launched and landed using a conventional runway. The drone features two afterburning jet engines and a 95% carbon fiber airframe.

The first flight of the 5GAT was scheduled to take place by June 2019, but is now scheduled for “early 2020” said Sierra Technical Services.

Roger Hayes, president and CEO of STS said, “This is a major milestone achievement with the completion of these engine run tests leading up to our flight test phase expected in the 1st quarter of 2020.

“This is a major step forward to providing our warfighters a low-cost, high-performance, full-scale, 5th Generation Aerial Target that can be also be used by the Department of Defense (DoD) for other emerging projects such as NGAT, Loyal Wingman, and Sky Borg. ”

NGAT (Next Generation Aerial Target) is the US Air Force’s project to develop a target drone suitable for next generation weapons system testing. Loyal Wingman and Sky Borg are initiatives by the US Air Force to develop unmanned drones able to assist manned fighter jets.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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