Sierra Technical Services, Inc. (STS) achieved a major milestone, on Jan 10, with the completion of Engine Run Testing on the 5th Generation Aerial Target (5GAT).
The 5GAT is a high-performance, unmanned, fighter-size aircraft that will be used for Air-to-Air and Ground-To-Air weapons evaluation, pilot training, and ground forces training when translated into production as the Next Generation Aerial Target (NGAT).
The 5GAT demonstrator incorporates two General Electric J85 afterburning jet engines, taken from retired Northrop T-38 Talon trainer jets, into a 95% carbon fiber airframe. The first flight of the aircraft is scheduled to take place early in 2020.
On 24 March 2017, STS was awarded a prime contract to design, manufacture, assemble, integrate and ground/flight test the 5GAT Demonstrator. A follow-on contract option to build a second demonstrator was awarded in 2019.
The 5GAT contract is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Contracting Office (USACE) located in Sacramento, CA and is managed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (OSD/DOT&E). STS has been the prime contractor developing the 5GAT aircraft concept since 2006, and uses two major subcontractors: Fast and Optimal Engineering (FOE) of Valencia, CA, and 5-D Systems of Round Rock, TX.
The detail design, manufacturing and subsystems integration for the 5GAT aircraft is being conducted at STS’ Tehachapi, California facilities.
Roger Hayes, President and CEO of STS said: “This is an exciting day and major milestone achievement with the completion of these Engine Run Tests leading up to our flight test phase expected in the 1 st quarter of 2020. I am extremely proud of our very small and dedicated 5GAT Team. This is a major step forward to providing our warfighters an attritable, low-cost, high performance, full-scale, 5th Generation Aerial Target that can be also be used by the Department of Defense (DoD) for other emerging projects such as NGAT, Loyal Wingman, and Sky Borg. “
According to the company, the 5GAT aircraft is intended to meet specialized needs regarding “threat representative” adversaries that the U.S. Warfighter may encounter in an aerial combat situation.