“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.”
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 Pentagon May Finally Get The Fighter-Sized Stealth Aerial Target Drone It Badly Needs— Mark Dominic (@Markmichdomnic) June 30, 2020
Well over a decade in the making, we finally got our first look at the 5th Generation Aerial Target, or 5GAT, that is slated to fly soon.https://t.co/vY3az2KnBq pic.twitter.com/l6brrSWXTQ
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.