In June 2015, the space technology firm Orbital Sciences successfully launched their 40th Coyote supersonic sea-skimming target (SSST) vehicle for the US Navy. The goal of the Coyote program, which is managed by the US Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), is to provide an SSST system that will simulate high speed, anti-ship cruise missiles for fleet training and weapon systems research, development, tests, and evaluation.
"Tests of this nature can be costly for customers to conduct from a logistics standpoint,” said Orbital Coyote Program Manager Keven Leith. "However, the Coyote's low production cost and outstanding operational track record have provided an excellent value for our customers." Orbital ATK was awarded the initial development contract in 2000. In January 2003, the Coyote program launched the first test flight of the unguided target. Later in the year, six more test flights were launched with enhanced capabilities and in 2004, an additional six were launched. In 2005, the system was at full operation.
Since that time, Orbital ATK has received multiple orders from the U.S. Navy, as well as orders from the Royal Australian Navy, France’s Direction générale de l’armement (DGA), and Japan’s Technical Research Development Institute (TRDI). So far, the system has launched 40 targets as well as completed 34 low altitude Mach 2.5 class flights. These missions included altitudes as low as 15 feet, maneuverability up to 12 G’s of lateral acceleration, and ranges of up to 55 nautical miles. In the years since 2010, the high altitude Coyote has successfully completed six Mach 3.25 class flights including altitudes up to 40,000 feet, power dives at user-specified downward angles, and ranges up to 120 nautical miles.
The development and manufacturing of the Coyote vehicles occurs at Orbital ATK’s production facility in Chandler, Arizona. Orbital ATK’s major subcontractors include Aerojet Corporation in Gainesville, Virginia and Sacramento, California for the solid-fuel ducted-rocket motor, and Goodrich Sensors & Integrated Systems in Vergennes, Vermont for the vehicle’s fin actuation system. Approximately 120 units have been ordered to date, 97 of which have been delivered to customers.
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