With anything but a quiet demise the MQM-8G Vandal program came to an end
with the final four Vandals being shot on 27 & 28 July in support of a Navy
weapon system development test program.
Spanning a period of over 28 years of Vandal target operations, the final
standard Vandal target (S/N 113) was launched from NAVAIR's Point Mugu Sea
Test Range in southern Calif. on 28 July. The shots marked the end of a
highly successful aerial target program that began in 1977 and had its roots
as far back as 1944.
In the mid-1970s, in response to an emerging supersonic anti-ship threat,
the Navy initiated development of a new supersonic target. Because of the
urgent need for a supersonic target, the Navy began an interim program
designated as MQM-8G, nicknamed Vandal, to meet the near term requirements
until a more capable target could be developed.
The Vandal program utilized the SAM-N-6c1/RIM-8E Talos missile procured from
1962 through 1966. The Talos long-range surface-to-air missile was the
ultimate result of the U.S. Navy's Bumblebee program.
Bumblebee was begun in 1944 with the goal to create a ramjet-powered
anti-aircraft missile. The initial effort was completed by the Applied
Physics Lab of the John Hopkins University. The result of this long test
program was the development of the Talos SAM-N-6.
The first Talos flew in October 1952, and later that year, the first
successful intercept was made. Phase-out of the Talos began in 1974, and in
1979 the last operational Talos ship was retired. The remaining Talos
missiles were converted to MQM-8G Vandal supersonic targets, simulating
anti-ship missile threats. "The converted Talos missiles were highly useful,
supersonic, high-altitude and sea-skimming targets, which stressed and
tested defensive weapon systems for over 28 years," said Capt. Richard
Walter, program manager, Navy Targets program office. "They were
instrumental in improvements to the weapon systems that protect the fleet
The successful launch and flight of the final four Vandal targets in
inventory was a fitting end to a program employing the Talos missiles.
The Navy is replacing the Vandal with the GQM-163A Coyote. The GQM-163A
target missile is a solid-fuel ducted-rocket ramjet, developed and
manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation, and completed developmental
testing in April 2005.