McDONNELL DOUGLAS Aerospace (MDA) and the Russian Zvezda design bureau have formed a partnership under which the US defence contractor will support the US Navy's evaluation of the M-31 supersonic sea-skimming target derivative of the Kh-31 (AS-17 Krypton) rocket/ ramjet-powered anti-ship missile.

The feasibility-test purchase comes under the Department of Defense (DoD) Foreign Comparative Test (FCT) programme, in which foreign weaponry is evaluated for potential procurement. The M-31 will be used to simulate supersonic anti-ship cruise-missile threats such as the Russian Raduga 3M-80 (SS-N-22 Sunburn).

MDA received a $4.8 million contract on 12 May under the fiscal year 1995/6 FCT of the Russian M-31 aerial target.

The DoD hopes that it can fulfil the mission requirements of the supersonic sea-skimming target, which replaced the USN's failed supersonic low-altitude target project. The FCT covers 16 months of work, beginning in May 1995.

The contract contains options, which if exercised, will earn MDA as much as $20 million. The US Company will obtain four M-31s from Zvezda under the initial contract for USN evaluation.

The USN says that contract options for expanded demonstration testing (EDT) could follow in FY1997, covering procurement of between three and 20 additional M-31 test articles. The EDT will be conducted if the FCT proves successful, the USN adds.

Source: Flight International