The United States Army’s Targets Management Office (TMO) is exploring potential acquisition of a new low-cost unmanned helicopter target system.

The service launched a market survey on 13 September to help identify potential suppliers.

All US military arms would use the proposed target system to support air defence missile operator training. A  full competitive acquisition process will be considered once the survey results are processed.

Market survey documentation released by the TMO, part of the US Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, says the helicopter targets would be used in both tracking and live fire engagement scenarios including “hover, attack, and ambush”.

The documents state: “These may be at high or low altitudes. The hover and attack may be masked or unmasked. These scenarios must be either executed directly or may be simulated by manoeuvres such as a racetrack pattern that give the US system repeated presentations of the target under nearly identical conditions.”

The new systems would be required to “replicate generic threat helicopters as closely as is technically and economically feasible”. This includes fitting with countermeasures and signature augmentation payloads such as flares with their associated equipment infra-red / radio frequency jammers and / or augmenters”.

Countermeasures are to mounted and dispensed from the same “general locations” and exhibit the same dispersal patterns as typical threat helicopters.

Baseline performance requirements include:

• a maximum speed greater than or equal to 110kt;
• hover in ground effect at less than 25ft above ground level (AGL) at 6,400ft density altitude;
• hover out of ground effect at 200ft AGL at 5,100ft density altitude;
• precision hover within 20ft of a point while operating at less than 25ft above ground level at 6,500ft density altitude and in wind less than 10kt;
• perform pop-up manoeuvres from 20ft to 45ft in less than 3s at 6,500ft density altitude;
• an operational ceiling of at least 10,000 ft density altitude
• capable of accelerations of at least 2g in vertical flight;
• flight endurance of more than 1h.

Total readiness time from set-up to launch is to be no more than 1.5h. The target system will “be required to operate during periods of daylight and darkness and under basic, hot-dry, and limited cold-wet climatic conditions and launch and recover in winds of 10kt gusting to 15kt”.      

Acquisition phase requirements may be predicated using the US Army’s Target Tracking and Control System UHF (TTCS-U) for flight control rather than proprietary systems so as to “significantly reduce the cost of procurement and operation.”.

White Sands Missile Range is the anticipated primary operational site, with Yuma Proving Ground, Eglin air force base and the US Navy’s Point Mugu range as potential secondary sites.

Responses to the market survey are due 29 September.