US Navy AQM-37Cs to be used in UK under foreign military sales contract as Eurofighter testing gathers pace

The UK is to use US Raytheon AQM-37C supersonic targets to support qualification firings of MBDA's ASRAAM air-to-air missile with the Royal Air Force's Eurofighter Typhoon next May. To be carried out at the Hebrides air range off north-west Scotland, the engagements will be part of the Guided Firing 3 (GF3) series of the Typhoon's operational qualification trials.

"We have procured a total service for AQM-37 from the USA via a foreign military sales contract," said Trevor Duggan, services support programme manager for the UK Defence Procurement Agency's aerial target services team, at the US National Defense Industrial Association's targets and ranges conference in Charleston, South Carolina on 17 November.

US Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) is co-ordinating target operations under the service arrangement. The US Air National Guard's 150th Fighter Wing, based at Kirkland AFB in New Mexico, will deploy several Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 30 aircraft to RAF Lossiemouth from late April 2005 to launch the targets.

The AQM-37 will be modified to carry an X-band noise jammer and will be fitted with luneberg lenses to provide increased radar cross section for the firings. Navair says the target has a radar cross section in the order of 0.1-0.2m2 (1.1-2.2ft2) in its basic configuration.

The X-band jammer will be removed for a second series of ASRAAM firings against a mixture of AQM-37Cs and Qinetiq-operated Galileo Avionica Mirach 100/5 subsonic targets planned for early 2006 as part of the Typhoon's GF5 qualification programme.

RAF Panavia Tornado F3 fighters recently staged a series of live firings of Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles against AQM-37s at the Point Mugu range in southern California. While the RAF was happy to deploy to the USA for those trials, Duggan says, "with the [developmental] Typhoon it is a different kettle of fish".



Source: Flight International