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QinetiQ announces first flights of new supersonic target

Multinational defence company QinetiQ has announced the first successful flights of a new Rattler Supersonic Target MkI for the US Department of Defense.

Multinational defence company QinetiQ has announced the first successful flights of a new Rattler Supersonic Target MkI for the US Department of Defense.

The development of customised Rattler Supersonic Target MkI was undertaken by QinetiQ, in partnership with the United States Department of Defense and White Sands Missile Range High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility (HELSTF).

As part of the High Energy Laser Measurement (HELM) Rattler Program and a QinetiQ-funded research and development project, successful flights provided the first data for the design variant of the uncrewed target.


The project also presented opportunities for the HELSTF Tracking Illuminating Laser System to acquire, track, and queue from a supersonic target at a short slant range, aiding the program’s Rattler variant 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,” according to QinetiQ threat representation managing director Graham Ollis.

The Rattler ST provides a cost-effective supersonic target platform designed for threat replication and operational training and system evaluation by emulating a variety of advanced missile threats, according to the company.

QinetiQ is customising the platform to support the US Department of Defense’s HELM Rattler Program, integrating a third-party target board to measure high-energy laser characteristics in flight at supersonic speeds. The US$10 million program started in February 2022 and is due to conclude in mid-2024.

“I am proud of the significant progress we’ve made with our development partners and customer in fielding this flight trial,” according to QinetiQ target systems project manager Owen Price.

“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 warfighter, as requirements for more realistic, instrumented threat representation become ever more important.”

Earlier this year, it was announced that Ross McEwan CBE and Dina Knight will join the QinetiQ board and become members of the audit, nominations, remuneration and risk and security committees.

McEwan joins the board building on experience as chief executive officer and managing director of National Australia Bank Limited (NAB) and, as recently announced, will retire from NAB on 1 July 2024.

Prior to joining the QinetiQ board, Ross has been CEO and MD of NAB since December 2019. He joined NAB from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) where he served as RBS Group CEO from 2013 to 2019 and CEO of UK Retail from 2012 to 2013.

Prior to these appointments, Ross held the positions of group executive for retail banking services and executive general manager at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), during which time he was responsible for its branch network, contact centres, and third-party mortgage brokers.

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