On Target

Attack helicopters represent a significant threat to armed forces, making proper training and system evaluation vital. Meggitt Target Systems, with the help of companies like NovAtel and other Western Canada–based manufacturers, develops the threat-representative targets and unmanned special mission vehicle platforms that make this possible.

In fact, for more than 30 years from its facilities in Alberta and the United Kingdom, Meggitt has provided unmanned vehicle targets for live-fire training and weapon system evaluation in multiple operational environments to armed forces in Canada and around the world.


The company got its start in the early 1980s when Canada’s Department of National Defence was looking for a way to independently test the systems they were building and buying, says Meggitt Target Systems business development manager, Vincent Malley. Defence program managers needed to ensure the platforms worked properly and turned to the Systems Integration Group at Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) Suffield. From there, the DRDC worked with Canadian industries to create a family of live-fire air, sea and land training targets for a variety of programs.

In 1983, the group’s products were spun off to Boeing and eventually acquired by Rolls-Royce and later, Schreiner. Meggitt took over as owner in 2004 and, in 2015, combined two businesses—Meggitt Defence Systems UK and Meggitt Training Systems Canada—to develop Meggitt Target Systems.

“Together we now sell to over 40 countries and have manufactured over 10,000 unmanned vehicle systems,” Malley said. “That’s quite a significant number in this industry.”

As Alberta emerges as a leader in unmanned systems technology, Meggitt Target Systems works with local companies like NovAtel whenever possible, reaping the benefits of having top-notch technology and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) infrastructure manufacturers nearby.

How Meggitt Uses NovAtel

Meggitt Target Systems has employed NovAtel positioning products in various capacities for about 10 years, says Bryan Godbolt, Meggitt Target Systems flight control engineer. Meggitt typically uses NovAtel products for target platforms that require high-performance position capabilities, such as advanced decoy systems.

“We put more advanced products in our decoy and surveillance systems because they’ll be around longer and need higher fidelity capabilities,” Malley said. “We use the NovAtel products in our multi-role unmanned vehicle systems where we can put high performance capabilities into the platform to get the most use out of them.”

One platform equipped with NovAtel’s integrated GNSS+INS SPAN® system is the Mosquito Unmanned Helicopter Vehicle Target (UHV-T). The ultra-light, low-cost subscale target has the ability to emulate attack profiles for land-to-air based targets, air-to-air maritime helicopters and single or swarming unmanned helicopters. The Mosquito can be deployed from land or sea and is remote-controlled and operated by Meggitt’s UTCS, a STANAG 4586-compliant control station.