The U.S. military is conducting market research to identify potential candidates capable of developing a full-scale aerial target prototype for fifth-generation aircraft testing, it said.
“The anticipated contract is for the development and integration testing of one or more large-scale, affordable, unmanned, low-observable, model-based aerial target aircraft prototypes and ground test support and government-directed in-flight,” Army Contracting Command-Orlando said. said in a Opinions of wanted sources (SSN) released this week.
The prototype is expected to be affordable, with the development of two aircraft costing less than $50 million and an average unit cost of less than $10 million, ACC-O said. The plane is also expected to be able to fly for up to 120 minutes, have passive radio frequencies and infrared signatures that mimic fifth-generation fighters, and be large enough to carry up to eight chaff/rocket delivery modules.
The SSN marks a rollback to a previous program that resulted in the 2020 delivery of the first fifth-generation aircraft (5GAT) to the Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, where it successfully completed low and high speed taxi.
This 5GAT aircraft, a twin-engine air target the size of a Northrop T-38, was developed by Sierra Technical Systems. The plane was tested in Utah for four months, but the program was later canceled due to an accident on its first flight, Aviation Week reported.
The engineering design brief for this earlier 5GAT aircraft “will be made available to potential bidders if/when a request for proposal (RFP) is issued by the government,” the notice states.
The planned grant for 5GAT will be made in fiscal year 2023.