PHOTOs: Sizzler approximator unveiled

Photos of the first ATK-built ZGQM-173A multi-stage supersonic target (MSST) have now appeared on the web. The US Navy is developing MSST to simulate the flight profile of Russia’s Novator 3M-54 Klub, which is also named the SS-N-27 Sizzler by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

If it’s pointed at you, the Klub is a hard missile to beat. It’s designed to skim over wave-tops subsonically, boost to near-hypersonic speeds in a brief climb, dive back to the surface and then weave its way toward the intended target — usually, the hull of a ship or submarine. All that zig-zagging with speed, altitude and direction makes the missile hard to track and even harder to stop.

When the MSST finally enters service in Fiscal 2014, the US Navy will finally be able to test defenses designed to overcome the threat.   

ATK also has revealed that the MSST consists of a subsonic bus derived from the CEi BQM-167 target and a M3.5 rocket adapted from the ATK Mk-114 vertical launch anti-submarine rocket (VLA). A briefing in October by an ATK executive claims the first flight of the ZGQM-173A prototype was scheduled on 17 November, but it’s not clear whether that event took place.

(Photos courtesy of ATK.)


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9 Responses to PHOTOs: Sizzler approximator unveiled

  1. sferrin 11 January, 2011 at 12:25 am #

    I’ll bet the Russians are rolling on the floor.

  2. Stephen Trimble 11 January, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    Not impressed, I take it? :)

  3. sferrin 11 January, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    I suppose they said, “what’s the cheapest way we can do this and fill the requirement” for which I totally understand. Still, compared to the elegance of the Sizzler packaging design it leaves a lot to be desired.

  4. para 11 January, 2011 at 3:39 am #

    Well, I guess anybody would be impressed, had this drone become operational a couple of years ago, not another three years into the future. The 3M54-range of missiles is operational for what, ten years now?

    And wether it really can emulate the Klub is up to debate. After all half of the system comes from the Coyote, which itself has a considerable amount of 1950s/60s technology in its front-end. Only the subsonic part is a completely new development.

    It seems to be another sign of the significant US deficiency of competence in supersonic AShMs.

  5. Moose 12 January, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Mimicking an existing missile’s performance closely with Off the Shelf components from a completely different aerospace lineage is not easy to do.

  6. FighterFan 13 January, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    What’s next, a simulator for the DF-21 ASBM?
    Any bidders?

  7. William C. 24 January, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Para, the SS-N-27 Klub has indeed been around for a few years, yet I believe it is achieved sales only recently.

    While the GQM-163 Coyote program has faced it’s share of problems it looks like it will do what it is supposed to. Much of these target drones/missiles are build with older components from all sorts of different programs in an effort to keep costs low. They aren’t sincere efforts to produce our own anti-ship missiles.

    To say we are incompetent and cannot build supersonic AShMs is false. The fact is that the Navy has focused their efforts on new versions of the Standard Missile family and other systems designed to counter threats like the Klub. Yet the LRASM program may give us the supersonic AShM your looking for.

    Meanwhile the combat proven Harpoon may be subsonic but it can still be a serious threat.

    Personally I believe we need to begin work on a new generation of supersonic and perhaps someday hypersonic cruise missiles. An anti-ship missile could easily be developed from such work.

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