The aerial target drone has had a long and healthy service life in the military sphere where its value lays in providing active weapons-release training for airmen. Kratos Unmanned Systems offers several products to fulfill such a requirement and one of its systems is the BQM-167 "Skeeter" (also recognized as the "Air Force Subscale Aerial Target" (AFSAT). The Skeeter was originally developed for use by the United States Air Force (USAF) and is valued for possessing "fighter-like" qualities akin to 4th Generation Fighter mounts. Kratos has made considerable inroads into the United States defense circle by providing such unmanned target solutions now to all of the major service of the American military. In USAF service, the Skeeter succeeded the MQM-107 "Streaker" by Beechcraft in same role.
NOTE: The BQM-167 is an original product of Composite Engineering, Incorporated which was acquired by Kratos Defense and Security Solutions.
The aircraft has a conventional external arrangement which sees a centralized fuselage housing all pertinent mission, avionics, fuel and propulsion components within a slender, streamlined design. The tail unit has a traditional single-finned configuration with low-mounted horizontal planes. All tail surfaces are swept back. The wing mainplanes are set low against the fuselage sides and are also swept rearwards. Pods are affixed to each wingtip. The vehicle is launched into the air by way of a ramp through rocket-assistance. It falls back to the ground by way of parachute for recovery and reuse.
Prototypes of the BQM-167 were first-flown in 2001 and garnered the interest of the USAF in 2002. Test articles were furnished thereafter, leading to a first-batch purchase in March of 2006. Initial Operating Capability (IOC) was had during 2008.
The primary BQM-167A model form has an overall length of 20 feet with a wingspan measuring 10.5 feet. Empty weight is 700lb against a maximum weight is 2,050lb. It is powered by a single French-originated Safran Microturbo TR-60-5 series air-breathing turbojet engine offering 990 lbf thrust output and allowing the air vehicle to reach speeds of Mach 0.91 and up to 9g force maneuvers. The air vehicle can hit altitudes nearing 50,000 feet - a quality seen in many modern 4th Generation Fighter types. The system can fit payloads both internally and externally and can support passive radar, an Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) fit, a defensive chaff and flare dispenser and an Identification Friend-or-Foe capability - all used to better mimic the capabilities of a modern military aircraft.
The foreign sale version of the BQM-167 is designated as BQM-167I. The series has not been exported as of yet (2018).
December 2017 - From a U. S. Army contract announced on December 27th, 2017, the service plans to procure some seventy to eighty total target drones to replace its dwindled stock of MQM-107 "Streaker" drones. The first batch of BQM-167 drones is set to be delivered during 2018.