Orbital Sciences has launched the 25th Coyote supersonic sea-skimming target (SSST) vehicle for the US Navy in support of the navy’s ongoing ship self-defence exercises in Hawaii, US.

Orbital executive vice president and general manager Ron Grabe said the low-cost and highly effective target can also be used to support US allied naval exercises.

“As further evidence of its operational status, we will soon support our first international mission when we participate in a defensive exercise with the French Navy,” Grabe added.

The system has evolved from an early development programme, through low-rate production and testing, to become a fully operational system providing critical capability to the US navy.

The ship self-defence exercises have been designed to counter potential threats such as high-speed, low altitude and highly manoeuvrable anti-ship cruise missiles.

The Coyote programme, managed by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), has been designed to provide an SSST system to simulate high-speed anti-ship cruise missiles for fleet training and weapon systems research, development, tests and evaluation.