Air Force resumes early plans for fifth-generation aerial target after two-year pause

By Briana Reilly / August 24, 2021 at 12:22 PM

The Air Force has released a second request for information surrounding the Next Generation Aerial Target as officials are poised to again consider potential development of the fifth-generation training and testing tool.

The RFI, published Friday, comes some two years after the service put out its first request for the target in March 2019, though at that time, “funding priorities did not permit further action on this effort,” service spokeswoman Lena Lopez told Inside Defense.

The language in the two RFIs are largely identical, but Lopez said the new notice comes as the government seeks “insight into any new technologies, and maturity of existing technologies that may have emerged/progressed” over the last two years.

That information, she said, would help inform the schedule, performance, cost and risk estimates should the effort move forward.

The request is seeking sources with the ability “to design, integrate, build, test and manufacture an affordable suite of aerial target solutions and payloads” to bolster testing, training and tactics development at a unit cost of less than $10 million. The targets, which include both destructible and reusable assets, should be capable of supporting radio frequency and electronic attack emissions from representative Chinese J-20, Russian Su-57 and others, per the document.

Responses are due Oct. 19, according to the listing. Lopez said beyond that, “budget priorities and capability needs will determine whether the [Defense Department] will pursue any action going forward.”