Pentagon’s Custom Rattler Supersonic Target Drones Complete Maiden Flight - M5 Dergi
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Pentagon’s Custom Rattler Supersonic Target Drones Complete Maiden Flight

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QinetiQ has conducted its inaugural flight of two Rattler supersonic target drones for the US Department of Defense High Energy Laser Measurement (HELM) program.

HELM seeks cost-effective unmanned aerial targets to measure advanced directed-energy weapons for the military.

During the trial, administrators validated the Rattler’s initial data in line with the specifications set by the Pentagon and the White Sands Missile Range High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility.

The vehicles were also used to test White Sands’ Tracking Illuminating Laser System in locating and tracking a supersonic target at a short slant range, providing additional information for the custom drone’s continuing development.

“This flight represents an important milestone in the Rattler transition to service project, and demonstrates our supersonic target capability in action for our US customer, as part of the HELM Rattler program, to meet the requirement for evolving threats.” QinetiQ Threat Representation Managing Director Graham Ollis stated.

The Rattler

The Rattler simulates missiles for enemy replication, analysis, and operational training.

Its standard variant is powered by a solid-propellant rocket motor for speeds of more than Mach 2.5 (3,100 kilometers/1,900 miles per hour).

The vehicle, designed primarily with aerospace aluminum alloys, launches in corkscrew and weaves patterns for realistic targeting validation.

HELM Program

QinetiQ wrote that the HELM program is valued at $10 million. Work for the initiative commenced in February 2022 and is scheduled to be completed by mid-2024.

“I am proud of the significant progress we’ve made with our development partners and customer in fielding this flight trial,” QinetiQ Target Systems Manager Owen Price said.

“We have been able to showcase QinetiQ’s technical and operational expertise and teamwork, launching the new Rattler ST MkI product and as part of developing the HELM Rattler test and evaluation target system for the war fighter, as requirements for more realistic, instrumented threat representation become ever more important.”

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