SAN DIEGO, Nov. 29, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq:KTOS), a leading National Security Solutions provider, announced today that its Unmanned Systems Division (USD) has recently successfully achieved the final development program milestone for its BQM-177A Subsonic Aerial Target (SSAT), which will allow for Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) to begin once the Federal Fiscal 2017 Budget is approved. The SSAT program is designed to meet the U.S. Navy's requirements for a new High Fidelity Target to replicate subsonic anti-cruise missile threats in direct support of fleet training and weapon system testing and evaluation. The BQM-177A will initially augment, and will eventually replace the existing BQM-74E Targets and will deliver longer range, lower cruise altitudes and greater maneuverability. The SSAT Program is being managed by the Naval Air System command (NAVAIR) Aerial Target and Decoy Systems Program Office (PMA-208). The BQM-177A is based on Kratos' BQM-167X Aircraft, a derivative of the BQM-167A Skeeter Target currently being supplied to the U.S. Air Force. While leveraging legacy designs of the BQM-167A, the BQM-177A introduces a new fuselage with area ruling, high mounted wings and an internally integrated MicroTurbo TR-60-5+ turbo jet engine for reduced transonic drag. The BQM-177A can support various mission requirements by carrying a variety of internal and wing tip mounted payloads, including electronic counter measures, active and passive radar augmentation, infrared, identification of friend or foe, internal chaff and flare dispensing, threat emitter simulators, smoke and scoring. Jerry Beaman, President of Kratos' Unmanned Systems Division, said, "The entire USD team is proud to have recently achieved the final development milestone on the United States Navy SSAT Program that was required prior to the commencement of production, which we currently expect to begin early next year." Eric DeMarco, President & CEO of Kratos, said, "The United States Navy is one of our company's most important customers, and the Kratos and USN teams have in unison achieved this critically important milestone. We expect to enter into production on the SSAT Program in 2017, along with another Kratos unmanned aerial target drone program that we have under contract. These two programs are the primary drivers in our expectation to double the size of our unmanned systems business over the next two years."