The US Navy has awarded a contract to Orbital Sciences to develop and deliver additional Coyote supersonic sea-skimming target (SSST) vehicles, to test fleet self-defence systems against a threat-representative target.
Under the production contract, the company will provide seven Coyote SSST vehicles and related equipment. It follows a previous award for the production and delivery of Mach 2.5-capable, low-altitude target missiles for the US Navy.
The $26.4m order is the sixth full-rate production contract following a successful five-year development and flight test programme.
Orbital’s Coyote programme manager Keven Leith said that the company had been providing highly reliable Coyote SSST to support US Naval ship defence efforts.
"The Coyote system has proven to be a capable and cost-effective threat simulator for our customer’s critical mission to help protect our deployed naval forces," Leith added.
Managed by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Coyote programme aims to provide an SSST system to simulate high-speed anti-ship cruise missiles for fleet training and weapon systems research, development, tests and evaluation.
The Coyote target missile is equipped with four-inlet, solid-fuel ducted-rocket ramjet propulsion system into a compact missile airframe, while the target vehicle system has a range of approximately 50nm at less than 20ft altitude above the sea surface.
Orbital had subcontracted Aerojet and Goodrich to provide solid-fuel ducted-rocket motor and sensors and integrated systems for the vehicle’s fin actuation system respectively.
The recent contract brings total orders for the programme, including the early development and test vehicles to 96, of which 77 have already been delivered.
Work will be carried out at the company’s facility in Arizona, US.
Image: A US Navy’s GQM-163A Coyote supersonic sea skimming target being launched from the Mediterranean island. Photo: courtesy of French DGA.