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First flights of Rattler Supersonic Target prove successful

20th March 2024 - 22:25 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


A Banshee Jet 80+ aerial target drone carrying the Rattler ST MkI. (Photo: QinetiQ)

The US Department of Defense (DoD), along with QinetiQ, successfully conducted the first flights of the Rattler Supersonic Target MkI marking a significant advance in supersonic target technology.

The first two flights of the Rattler Supersonic Target (ST) MkI were confirmed as successful by the DoD, White Sands Missile Range High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility (HELSTF) and defence company QinetiQ.

QinetiQ has claimed that the flights marked a “pivotal moment” in the development of high-speed target technology, with the first two Rattler Supersonic Target MkIs completing their initial flights and providing data for the design of the supersonic target.

The Rattler ST, described as a “cost-effective, supersonic target platform” by QinetiQ, can emulate a variety of advanced missile threats. The platform has been designed for threat replication, operational training and system evaluation.

The QinetiQ-funded R&D project, which has formed part of the High Energy Laser Measurement (HELM) Rattler program, saw the flights offer the first data for the design variant of the uncrewed target. The tests have also enabled the HELSTF Tracking Illuminating Laser System to acquire, track and queue from a supersonic target at a short slant range.

Graham Ollis, managing director – threat representation at QinetiQ, commented: “This flight represents an important milestone in the Rattler transition to service project and demonstrates our supersonic target capability in action, as part of the HELM Rattler program, to meet the requirement for evolving threats.”

QinetiQ has been customising the platform to support the US DoD’s HELM Rattler Program by integrating a third-party target board that helps to measure high-energy laser characteristics in flight and at supersonic speeds.

The US$10 million programme began more than two years ago in February 2022 and has been scheduled for conclusion in mid-2024.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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