Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Copyright © 2002 Andreas Parsch

RS Systems FQM-117 RCMAT

Beginning in June 1979, RS Systems supplied the U.S. Army with its very simple and low-cost FQM-117A RCMAT (Radio-Controlled Miniature Aerial Target) for surface-to-air defense training. The FQM-117A was a small delta-winged target powered by a nose-mounted model aircraft engine. It could be hand-launched by one man, and controlled in flight by a hand-held radio-command remote control. The target was designed to be expendable but could be recovered by a simple belly landing if it wasn't hit during the exercise. Equipment options for the FQM-117A included a passive radar augmentor, an IR source, a visual hit indicator, and MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System) equipment. With MILES there is no need to fire live bullets at the target, because the air-defense systems used for training are equipped with low-energy lasers, which are "fired" at the target and detected by the latter's hit indicator. More than 30000 FQM-117A targets were delivered to the U.S. Army until December 1983, and used in training with surface-to-air gun systems and the FIM-92 Stinger man-portable air-defense missile system.

Photo: via Jane's

To provide a more realistic training environment, RS Systems introduced the ARCMAT (Augmented RCMAT) in 1981. Conversion of an FQM-117A to ARCMAT standard involved the replacement of the target's nose crutch by a three-dimensional nose section and the addition of a two-dimensional fuselage and tail section. These sections were designed to represent the MiG-27 and MiG-21 (and A-7, F-16 for recognition training), and resulted in usable 1/9th scale representations of said aircraft. Many thousand FQM-117As were converted to this standard.

In the mid-1980s, RS Systems introduced still more realistic fully three-dimensional scale targets representing various Soviet and American aircraft. The U.S. Army procured the 1/9th scale MiG-27 Flogger-D model as the FQM-117B. The FQM-117B had a slightly more powerful engine than the simpler FQM-117A, and had also the additonal AIRMILES payload option. AIRMILES was a system from RS Systems compatible with the Army's MILES, and featured a target-installed programmable THI (Tactical Hit Indicator). The THI gave "flash-bang-smoke" feedback whenever the target was "hit" in a definable area for a definable number of times. AIRMILES could be programmed with different "lethalities" for different types of surface-to-air weapons, and could use a low-energy (eye-safe) "fire-back" laser for "cover and concealment" training. This "fire-back" laser, which was mounted on the back of the FQM-117B, was operated manually by the target operator. The FQM-117C was a 1/9th scale model of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and was used together with the FQM-117B in exercises involving friend/foe recognition training.

Photo: via Jane's

More than 100000 FQM-117 targets of all versions were delivered to the U.S. Army, but the 1/9th scale RCMAT has been phased out in the late 1990s. In the role of low-cost aerial target model aircraft, it has been replaced by the much more versatile and realistic RPVTS (Remotely Piloted Vehicle Target System) using 1/5th scale representations of Su-25 Frogfoot and Mi-24 Hind aircraft (see MQM-143A).


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for FQM-117A/B:

Length0.91 m (3 ft)1.83 m (6 ft)
Wingspan1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Weight3.9 kg (8.5 lb)3.6 kg (8 lb)
Speed148 km/h (80 kts)120 km/h (65 kts)
Ceiling3000 m (10000 ft)
Endurance12 min
PropulsionK&B two-stroke piston engine; 0.93 kW (1.25 hp) Two-stroke piston engine; 1.5 kW (2 hp)

Main Sources

[1] Kenneth Munson: "World Unmanned Aircraft", Jane's, 1988
[2] Bernard Blake (ed.): "Jane's Weapon Systems 1987-88", Jane's, 1988

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Last Updated: 24 December 2002