REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (March 6, 2017) -- Due to high demand, the White Sands Missile Range, N.M., requested MQM-107 vehicles developed by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The Program Executive Officer for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation's Targets Management Office received the request from WSMR for additional MQM-107 vehicles. With 16 on location and others in use out of the country or owned by special programs, the MQM-107 is needed for training and testing. The MQM-107 is the single work horse in the subsonic fixed wing regime for training, research, development, test and evaluation efforts for the Army.

Research began on the MQM-107A in 1969 as the variable speed training target. Development started in 1972 with the first MQM-107A fielded in 1976. Improvements continued until development of the MQM-107E.

MQM-107E is 18 feet long and has a wingspan of 10 feet. It is capable of airspeeds of 250 to 535 knots at altitudes of 50,000 to 40,000 feet. The Army Ground Aerial Target Control System allows for remote operation of the MQM-107E.

Hard points on each wing provide for the operation of towed targets weighing up to 100 pounds. The vehicle's capability to carry various payloads makes it highly adaptable.

The TMO has been maintaining its technology for over 30 years. "It has lasted longer than it was ever intended to," said Don Ferguson, lead engineer, Fixed Wing Lab.

Ferguson spent 24 years of his 35 year government career working on this technology. "In the early years, it was always something different. It got me out of the office and into the field." At its high point, TMO was running about 200 missions a year on average.

To keep this system alive for so many decades, the team had to come up with creative ideas and innovative techniques. "To keep costs low TMO had to think of unique and novel solutions. They had to really think outside of the box," said Clark Roberts, engineer, Fixed Wing Lab.

They used their technologies' advantages to create leverage. The team proved the technology could survive through budgets cuts. "It is a good example of Army efficiency," said Jim Schwierling, TMO project director, High and Medium Speed Aerial Targets. "We kept modifying instead of giving up and buying new." TMO practiced obsolescence at a high level, looking for refurbished parts and buying all they could for their stock.

"It's great for engineers to have a challenge," said Kris Strope, chief, Aerodynamic Technology. TMO will continue to locate more cost effective solutions to improve the MQM-107 and more effectively meet customer requirements.

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The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Material Command.