The United States Department of Defense has recently reignited the Fifth Generation Aerial Target (5GAT) project in a strategic move to further modernize and bolster its military capabilities. This initiative, which seeks to develop a sophisticated and cost-effective aerial target mimicking advanced adversary combat jets, holds the potential to revolutionize military training, weapon evaluation, and test events—maintaining American dominance in an ever-evolving global security landscape.

The Contract Award: A Stepping Stone for Future Excellence

The 5GAT project, though ambitious, is essential for our armed forces as it aims to fill a significant gap in military training and evaluation. In the past, retired fifth-generation aircraft were used as aerial targets in training to simulate realistic enemy threats. These older models were not only economical but also mirrored the features of advanced enemy planes, making them an effective training tool.

However, as the latest fifth-generation fighter aircraft have significantly increased in cost and lifespan, the availability of suitable retired airframes has diminished. This scarcity led to the conception of the 5GAT project, aimed at developing an affordable aerial target that faithfully captures the performance, signature, and countermeasures of modern fifth-generation aircraft.

Thus, the resurgence of the 5GAT project has taken a significant stride forward with the awarding of a million-dollar contract to Advanced Technology International (ATI) by the US Department of Defense. This contract signifies a renewed dedication to innovation as ATI takes on the role of the “managing prime,” with Sierra Technical Services, Inc. serving as a major subcontractor. This partnership is poised to pave the way for developing the prototypes of these sophisticated aerial targets that would, accordingly, replicate the performance, signature, and countermeasures of advanced adversary fifth-generation aircraft accurately, like the Chinese J-20 and the Russian Su-57.

Project Background and Goals: Addressing a Critical Need

As previously mentioned, the necessity for the 5GAT project stems from the scarcity of retired fifth-generation airframes suitable for training and evaluation purposes. Accordingly, the project aims to refine a previous design to achieve specific performance goals. The development process includes constructing additional prototypes for rigorous ground and flight tests, which will testify to the aircraft’s efficacy and affordability.