Navy Targets Unmanned Aircraft

  • (Source: UK Ministry of Defence)
  • 12:00 AM, December 11, 2008
  • 1953
There are 11 squadrons based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose comprising helicopters, Hawk jets, Jetstream turboprop aircraft and, perhaps less well known, a squadron of radio-controlled target aircraft.>> The unmanned radio-controlled target aircraft, operated by 792 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), are used in missile training around the remoter parts of the west coast of Britain as well as being deployed from ships at sea.>> Recently updated to the Mirach Aerial Target Drone, which has similar characteristics to an 'UAV' (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), 792 Squadron provides target opportunities for ships' missile systems and for fighter aircraft during weapon systems testing and training.>> The Mirach has an advanced digital global positioning system and navigation computer which allows it to maintain pinpoint accuracy during target presentations and there are numerous role configurations that can be fitted to the target system. For example flare dispensers for missile homing, smoke plumers for visual indication, and a capability to tow a small target behind the main target on 100ft (30m) of Kevlar cable.>> The target is launched by electrical ignition of the disposable rocket motors which are fitted on either side of the Mirach's rear section. These rockets each provide around eight tonnes of thrust which, in addition to the unmanned aircraft's internal jet engine, propel the Mirach from standstill to approximately 350 knots (648 km/h) in two seconds and to a maximum airspeed of 530 knots (981 km/h).