The AQM-127 Supersonic Low-Altitude Target
) was a target drone
A target drone is an unmanned, remote controlled aerial vehicle, usually used in the training of anti-aircraft crews.In their simplest form, target drones often resemble radio controlled model aircraft...
developed during the 1980s by Martin Marietta
Martin Marietta Corporation was an American company founded in 1961 through the merger of The Martin Company and American-Marietta Corporation. The combined company became a leader in chemicals, aerospace, and electronics. In 1995, it merged with Lockheed Corporation to form Lockheed Martin. The...
for use by the United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...
. Derived from Martin Marietta's work on the cancelled ASALM
The Advanced Strategic Air-Launched Missile was a medium-range strategic missile program, developed in the late 1970s for the United States Air Force...
missile, SLAT proved to have severe difficulties in flight testing, and the project was cancelled during 1991.
Design and development
Development of what became the YAQM-127 was initiated in 1983 following the cancellation of the BQM-111 Firebrand. A replacement for the MQM-8 Vandal target drone was still required, and a specification was developed for a target drone, capable of being recovered via parachute and reused, for launch from a variety of aircraft.
Bids for the contract were submitted by Martin Marietta, Ling-Temco-Vought
Ling-Temco-Vought was a large U.S. conglomerate which existed from 1969 to 2000. At its peak, its component parts were involved in the aerospace industry, electronics, steel manufacturing, sporting goods, the airline industry, meat packing, car rentals and pharmaceuticals, among other...
, and Teledyne Ryan, with the Martin Marietta design being judged the winner of the design competition in September 1984. Derived from the cancelled Advanced Strategic Air-Launched Missile developed by Martin Marietta for the United States Air Force, the missile utilised a Marquardt
Marquardt Corporation was one of the few aeronautical engineering firms that was dedicated almost solely to the development of the ramjet engine. Marquardt designs were developed through the 1940s into the 1960s, but the ramjet never became a major design and the company turned to other fields in...
hybrid rocket-ramjet propulsion system, with a solid rocket booster providing initial thrust, with the rocket's chamber, following burnout, becoming the combustion chamber for a ramjet sustainer. The AQM-127 was designed to fly at speeds of Mach 2.5 at an altitude of 30 feet (9 m), following a pre-programmed course on autopilot. The SLAT was to be fitted with radar signature augmentors and a radar seeker emulator; initial operational capability was projected for 1991.
The first test launch of the fifteen YAQM-127A pre-production test missiles produced was conducted on November 20, 1987. A further five test flights were conducted between then and January 1989; however only one of the six tests proved a success. Following a twenty-two month stand-down to reassess the program and modify the missile design, flight testing resumed in November 1990; this test also was a failure, as was a final attempt at a test in May 1991.
With the SLAT proving a consistent failure and the cost of the project increasing dramatically, the United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....
stepped in, and during the summer of 1991 the AQM-127 program was cancelled. The Navy, still requiring a new high-speed target drone to replace the Vandal, would turn to a drone conversion of a Russian missile, the MA-31
The MA-31 was a conversion of the Kh-31 anti-ship missile, developed by the Soviet Union during the 1980s, for use as a target drone by the United States Navy...
, as an interim solution. This drone entered service in small numbers during 1999.
- Creative Research On Weapons
- GQM-163 Coyote
The GQM-163 Coyote is a supersonic seaskimming target built by Orbital Sciences and used by the United States Navy as a successor to the MQM-8 Vandal. Orbital's proposal was chosen over the MA-31, a joint venture between Boeing and Zvezda-Strela...