Missile and anti-aircraft defence crews need live fire practice too. But since they can’t very well be expected to shoot at a piloted target, the UK’s Royal Navy instead takes pot shots at this low-cost screamer.
Unmanned systems have long been employed as live-fire targets for militaries around the world. In fact, the very first UAS systems developed during the Vietnam War, such as the Firebee, were built specifically to be shot at.
The BTT-3 Banshee, originally developed by Target Technology Ltd in the early 1980s but is now produced by Meggitt, is a 3m long kevlar and fibreglass aerial target drone outfitted with a 2.4m wide tailless delta wing. It can be equipped with either a single prop or dual jet engines driven by a single Norton P73 Wankel rotary engine, which propel the aircraft up to a level air speed of 200km/h for just over an hour (assuming everyone misses) with a 100km operational range. And should everyone in fact miss, the Banshee employs a drag chute and crushable nose cone to cushion the drone’s return to Earth. The system also floats for easy oceanic retrievals
The Banshee is quite versatile. It can be launched from a pneumatic catapult either from the deck of a warship or from a terrestrial launcher. Each target is guided by a remote ground crew, although they can also be made to follow pre-programmed flight paths, and can be equipped with radar enhancement devices which mimic the radar signatures of larger threats like sea skimming missiles as well as chaff and flare dispensers to confuse incoming counter attacks. They can even be outfitted with a camera gimbal for impromptu ISR missions.
And though the Banshee system recently ran into a couple of embarrassing technical difficulties during live-fire exercises in India, its lightweight and inexpensive construction have made the Banshee the target of choice for more than three decades now. [Wiki – Meggitt Defence]