Thursday, July 24, 2008

UK aerial targets

Aerial Target Systems is the term used in the UK for UAVs and other projectiles used to emulate aerial threats for the testing and training of the various anti-air warfare systems deployed by the the 3 arms of the UK armed forces. Here we will look at the various systems currently used. These systems will be operated by QinetiQ in the Combined Aerial Target Service (CATS) who are to be responsible for all UK aerial target requirements.

BTT-3 Banshee

The Banshee, built by Meggitt Defense Systems, is a piston-engine powered delta winged target that has been in UK service for 20 years and is used by over 40 other countries. The catapult launched Banshee can be remote-controlled in visual range or beyond that by using it's own autopilot with GPS tracking. When they are set to fly autonomously one ground station can operate up to 4 Banshees.

The Banshee can be quickly modified to suit the mission using a variety of plug-in modules including flares, IR sources and a radar altimeter for low-level flight down to as low as 5m.


Falconet, by Flight Refuelling Ltd., and is a fast jet powered target used as the primary trainer for the British Army's Rapier SAMs. The Falconet can be programmed for a variety of attack profiles including low-level and sea-skimming.

Falconet can take off with JATO assistance or more economically from a circular runway. It can carry it's own towed target. It can also be fitted with a variety of equipment including signature enhancers and miss distance indicators.

Mirach 100/5

The Mirach, made by Italian company Finmeccania, is a jet powered subsonic aerial target used by the Royal Navy. It has replaced the Chukar II. The Mirach can be controlled using remote control or fly a pre-programmed flight guided by it's Global Positioning System/Inertial navigation system.

Mirach can be fitted with a variety of equipment including distance indicators, flares and chaff, other smaller drones and interestingly a rearward facing video camera which must have provided a few interesting views of incoming missiles which has included exercises with RN Sea Dart and RAF Sidewinder missiles.

(Note : this article previously appeared in my now defunct UAV blog)

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