15:19 GMT29 October 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A stealthy, low altitude 5th generation drone protype designed for target practice by 5th generation fighter jets and other weapons will make its first test flight later this month, the Defense Department said in a press release.

    “To determine whether a system really is combat-credible, we must test it under realistic conditions. That includes putting it up against a realistic threat,” the release said on Wednesday. “Right now, we lack a test platform that truly represents fifth-generation air capabilities. Filling that gap as soon as possible is absolutely essential to both testing and training.”

    Media reports during the system’s development said the prototype 5GAT - or 5th generation aerial target - is designed to mimic low-altitude enemy drones with stealth technology and will be used to evaluate air-to-air and surface-to-air weapons designed to defeat attacks by unmanned aircraft.

    The 40-foot-long “fighter-sized” drone with a 7.3 meter wings span is powered with two afterburning jet engines. It features a 95 percent carbon fiber airframe and requires a conventional runway to launch and land, according to industry reports.

    ​The Defense Department said tests beginning in late October will demonstrate the drone’s flight characteristics, subsystems’ performance and the aircraft’s auto-takeoff and auto-landing capabilities. Subsequent flight tests will progressively expand the aircraft's flight envelope in altitude, speed and greater gravity-force loading.

    The prime contractor, Sierra Technical Services, created the prototype in less than three-and-a-half years, using engines and other elements harvested from decommissioned Defense Department military aircraft, as well as an existing US Army ground-based aircraft control system, the release said.

    military, drone, United States, US
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