Navy officials said the service branch has awarded a $57 million award potentially worth up to $250 million to Northrop Grumman to produce Coyote supersonic sea-skimming target (SSST) vehicles.
The initial 19 vehicles could result in an additional 84 target vehicles, bringing the GQM-163A targets ordered to date to 200.
“The Coyote is the only supersonic sea skimming target in production in the U.S.,” Rich Straka, vice president, launch vehicles, Northrop Grumman, said. “This is our fourteenth full-rate production contract of reliable and proven threat representative targets.”
Authorities describe the vehicle as a high performance, supersonic target missile that tests naval ship defenses, adding Northrop Grumman uses 3D printing extensively to build mockups, tooling, and preliminary design modifications.
The design integrates a solid-fuel, air-breathing ducted rocket propulsion system with high performance avionics capable of providing multiple threat scenarios.
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland manages the Coyote program. The vehicles provide the Navy with a cost-effective target to simulate advanced supersonic anti-ship cruise missile threats.
The equipment can be used as a Mach 2.5+ sea skimming target or as a Mach 3.5+ diving target from an altitude of 52,000 feet, per authorities.