Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) today announced that it was recently awarded a production contract for seven Coyote supersonic sea-skimming target (SSST) vehicles and related equipment by the U.S. Navy. The latest order for Orbital's Coyote target program is in addition to existing production contracts for the Mach 2.5-capable, low-altitude target missile used by the Navy to test fleet self-defense systems against a threat-representative target. This latest SSST order is the fifth full-rate production contract following a highly successful five-year development and flight test program. The total value of the new contract is $26.4 million.
The Coyote program is managed by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), based at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. The target missile design integrates a four-inlet, solid-fuel ducted-rocket ramjet propulsion system into a compact missile airframe 18 feet long and 14 inches in diameter. Ramjet supersonic takeover speed is achieved using a decommissioned Navy MK 70 solid rocket motor for the first stage. Rail-launched from naval test and training ranges, the highly maneuverable Coyote achieves cruise speeds of over Mach 2.5 following the separation of the MK 70 first-stage booster. The range of the target vehicle system is approximately 50 nautical miles at altitudes of less than 20 feet above the sea surface.
Orbital also designed and carried out a test-flight in 2010 of a "high-diver" variant of the Coyote missile, during which the vehicle achieved an altitude of 35,000 feet, traveled at Mach 3.3 and approached its target point at a 40-degree downward angle.
Coyote Program Overview
Orbital was awarded an initial development contract in 2000 to meet the Navy's requirement for an affordable SSST system to simulate high-speed anti-ship cruise missiles for fleet training and weapon systems research, development, test and evaluation. Orbital and the Navy completed the development phase of the program with five successful test flights, the last of which took place in April 2005.
Since that time, Orbital has received multiple orders from the Navy under low-rate initial production and full-rate production contracts. Total orders for the program currently stand at 89 units (including the early test and development vehicles), of which 53 have been delivered to the customer. Orbital has also supported 20 consecutive successful operational or test launches.
Orbital is developing and manufacturing the Coyote vehicles at its launch vehicle engineering and production facility in Chandler, Arizona. Orbital'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.
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