U.S. Army May Revive 5GAT Target Program

Credit: Sierra Technical Services

The U.S. Army may seek to revive a program canceled two years ago and produce a stealthy aerial target to be used for testing and training. 

A new sources sought notice published by Army Contracting Command names the Fifth Generation Aerial Target (5GAT) as a candidate for a contract expected to be awarded in fiscal 2023. 

The 5GAT was a Northrop T-38-sized, twin-engine aerial target developed by Tehachapi, California-based Sierra Technical Systems under a contract awarded by the office of Director for Test and Evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). 

Sierra delivered the first 5GAT aircraft to the Defense Department in July 2020 and completed low- and high-speed taxi tests over the next four months. But the program was canceled before flight testing began after a prototype crashed during its first flight on Oct. 23, 2020, at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah. 

As part of the contract, Sierra also delivered the technical design package for the 5GAT to the government, and the Army would make that information available to companies seeking to respond to a potential request for proposals, the sources sought notice said.

But the Army is not limiting its search to the 5GAT design. The approved requirement calls for “one or more low-cost, low-observable full-scale, transonic aerial target(s) provisioned for integration of a threat-representative electronic attack capability,” the sources sought notice says. 

The cost target for developing two aircraft is $50 million or less, with a unit flyaway cost of $10 million each for production. The aircraft should be able to fly missions up to 120 min. and carry a variety of payloads including an ALE-47 countermeasure dispenser system with up to eight chaff/flare modules. 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.