Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Copyright © 2008 Andreas Parsch

Alliant Techsystems GQM-173 MSST

In mid-2007, the U.S. Navy initiated the MSST (Multi-Stage Supersonic Target) program to develop a target missile to simulate the Russian 3M54E (SS-N-27 Sizzler) anti-ship missile. In February 2008, the designation ZGQM-173A was allocated to the future MSST vehicle. The GQM-173 will have to replicate the capabilities of the 3M54E, which is a subsonic cruise missile with a supersonic terminal stage. The latter approaches its target at low-level at Mach 2.8, and can perform high-g evasive maneuvers. In late August 2008, the Navy announced that Alliant Techsystems (ATK) was selected as prime contractor for the MSST.

Image: ATK

The GQM-173 consists of a subsonic winged "cruise bus", which releases a supersonic "sprint vehicle" for terminal approach. The all-new bus is designed by ATK, while subcontractor Composites Engineering Inc. (CEi) will provide the "sprint vehicle". The latter will be based on the GQM-163 Coyote target vehicle, for which CEi builds the front end.

The initial contract covers the construction of seven flight test articles. First flight is scheduled for 2011, and the whole test and evaluation phase is expected to run until the end of 2012.


Detailed physical characteristics of ATK's GQM-173 design are not available.

Main Sources

[1] Bill Sweetman: "Simulating Sizzler", Ares Defense Blog, 9 June 2008
[2] Graham Warwick: "ATK Unveils Sizzler Simulator", Ares Defense Blog, 1 September 2008

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Last Updated: 8 September 2008