BQM-90 was an unmanned air vehicle proposed by the US Navy for use as a target drone. Developement began in the 1970s, but no aircraft were built before the project was cancelled. The US Navy has gone through a long succession of programs in an attempt to obtain such a target.
In military training maneuvers, drones are used to simulate enemy missiles closing in on a target. The drones themselves are programmed to follow various flight paths and in themselves constitute targets for the testing of missile defense systems. One of the important functions programmed into the drone is a vertical profile of the path of travel of the drone towards a particular target. The vertical descent profile programmed is actually a continuously varying altitude command which is a function of the slant angle to the target.
A first type of vertical profile of the drone altitude might include a descent from a given altitude to a low altitude and thence a horizontal straight line low altitude approach directly to the target. A second type of vertical profile might simply be a straight line approach directly to the target from a given altitude, the drone traveling along the line of the slant range directly to the target.
The BQM-90 project was launched in 1970 under the designation ZBQM-90A. The intention of the program was to create a supersonic, high-altitude target drone for use in the ground-to-air and air-air tests. It had to start from the ground or air, using a Turbojet power plant, and would be control led from the ground or the on-board control stations.
The requirements for flight were increased during development. In the end, the specification called for the BQM-90 to replicate a sea-skimming anti-ship rocket at Mach 1.3 or a high-altitude rocket driving at the speed of Mach 3 and high altitude. At the end of the flight, the drone was to deploy the parachute, allowing it to be restored and reused.
The ZBQM-90A program was cancelled in 1973 due to lack of funding before a contractor was selected.
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