Multi-mission, missile-armed variant proposed by Boeing to fill potential USAF requirement
Boeing has revealed preliminary details of a proposed multi-mission variant of the Composite Engineering (CEI) BQM-167 Skeeter target drone being put forward for a possible US Air Force requirement for ahigh-speed penetrating unmanned air vehicle.
The variant would carry two AGM-114 Hellfire-class air-to-surface missiles and sensors for deep penetration strikes, but could also be equipped with electronic attackpayloads, says Boeing. The company launched initial design and systems analysis studies of the concept in mid-2003.
Bobby Cartmill, Boeing project manager for the BGM-167, says work is set to continue alongside discussions with the USAF on its potential requirements. Cartmill says the preliminary BGM-167 concept is based on "fulfilling the role that [Northrop Grumman] BQM-34s have fulfilled in combat".
The multi-mission BGM-167 will have an all-up weight of around 907kg (2,000lb) for a ground-launched vehicle, although this could be higher for air-launched versions. Boeing is considering replacing the BQM-167's turbojet engine with a turbofan. The current air vehicle has an endurance of 3h, a top speed of M0.91 and a range of roughly 740km (400nm).
Boeing is a subcontractor on the BQM-167 to CEI, which is producing 50 annually under a seven-year contract awarded by the USAF in mid-2002. The air force is phasing out all remaining RaytheonMQM-107-series target drones in favour of the new system, with this process expected to be complete within weeks.
PETER LA FRANCHI / CHARLESTON
Source: Flight International