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GQM-163A "Coyote" Supersonic Sea-Skimming Target

The mission of the Aerial Target Systems Development program is the design and development of threat representative subsonic and supersonic aerial targetsthat simulate threat weapon systems. In addition to representative air vehicles, this includes development of Target Control (TC) systems, and associated Target Augmentation and Auxiliary Systems (TA/AS) which are used to replicate specific threats. Targets are developed to support test and evaluation of combat systems required to defend fleet surface and air units in a hostile environment.

On 31 July 2000 the U.S.Navy selected U.S. space contractor Orbital Sciences to supply a new Supersonic Sea-Skimming Target missile, or SSST, passing over a Russian-built missile purchased by Boeing. Orbital’s business development senior manager Michael J. Bender credited the Navy victory, in part, to the company’s management strategy for an “all-American team.” He said “We teamed with Atlantic Research and Raytheon, creating an all-American team to eliminate any geopolitical risk and avoid dependency on foreign-based contractors”.

The new Orbital target missile was intended to simulate the chief threat to U.S. warships, the Russian-made Raduga 3M82 Moskit supersonic cruise missile. Orbital Sciences beat a combined team of U.S. defense contractor Boeing and Russian missile maker Zvezda, which had proposed an extended-range version of the MA-31 target drone, a variant of the Zvezda Kh-31 anti-radar missile. Boeing currently provided the MA-31 to the U.S. Navy under a multi-year contract with the Russian defense ministry.

The MA-31 Program was initiated via Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) & Expanded Demonstration Test (EDT) from 1995-2000. The Supersonic Target Missile project was approved as a FY2001 new start but deferred pending resolution of export control issues. The mission of the Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program is to test and evaluate foreign non-developmental items (NDI) identified by the CINCs and Services in order to avoid costly and time-consuming U.S. new start acquisition programs. The FCT program is Congressionally mandated in Title 10, USC, Section 2350a. FCT tests and evaluates conventional defense equipment, munitions, and technologies manufactured and developed by major allies of the United States and other friendly foreign countries to determine the ability of such equipment, munitions, and technologies to satisfy United States military requirements or to correct operational deficiencies. While the testing of NDI and items in the late state of the development process are preferred, the testing of equipment, munitions, and technologies may be conducted to determine procurement alternatives. FCT projects are nominated by the Services and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) each year and submitted to Congress for approval prior to expenditure of funds.

USN contracted with Boeing for the delivery of MA-31 targets in FY2000. The MA-31 is a Russian-built, supersonic, high-altitude, anti-shipcruise missile target that uses a powered dive in the terminal phase of its attackon a ship. The U.S. had been able to buy 18 of these missiles in the past, butour current effort to buy 40 more is stalled by bureaucratic delays in Russia –likely occasioned by the varying political climate between the U.S. and Russia. No backup plan to develop or procure a suitable substitute target was evident. Boeing executed a plan to close out MA-31 procurement contract due to numeroussetbacks beyond Navy/Boeing control. Forty-one MA-31 SSST targets were on contract. Last assets were expended in December 2007.

Supersonic targets represent supersonic anti-ship cruise missile threats. The design and development of GQM-163A SSST capabilities provide threat representative targets that are used in directsupport of Developmental Test and Evaluation, Operational Test and Evaluation, and Live Fire Test and Evaluation of major combat weapons programs and, to a lesser degree, support fleet training. GQM-163A is a non-recoverable supersonic sea skimming aerial target, capable of speeds in excess of Mach 2.5 and cruise altitudes from15 to 66 ft. The GQM-163A also demonstrated a capability to perform a higher altitude diving threat profile.

The SSST missile target was eveloped by the Naval Air Systems Command, Program Executive Office for Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation, located at Patuxent River, Maryland. The SSST System was under development to provide the Navy with an affordable capability to meet early 21st century fleet training and weapons systems test requirements to simulate Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles. Orbital Sciences. Corporation is the missile prime contractor, and was supported by Raytheon for missile avionics, and ARC for propulsion. The ARC contract covered a three-year development and flight-test program, and includes options for two years of production. The ARC SSST engine, designated the MARC-R-282, is based on the Variable Flow Ducted Rocket (VFDR) ramjet engine cycle. ARC completed heavyweight ramjet engine development testing to define the ramcombustor geometry, the solid fuel formulation, the fuel valve and injector design, and to verify assumed levels of engine performance.

On 25 February 2005 Aerojet, a GenCorp Inc. (NYSE: GY) Company, announced that its ramjet engine once again met all test objectives in a third straight successful flight test conducted by Orbital Sciences Corporation as part of the U.S. Navy GQM-163A "Coyote" Supersonic Sea-Skimming Target missile program. Aerojet developed the world's first variable flow ducted rocket ramjet and was the only company currently flight testing high speed missile propulsion for future U.S. military needs. The successful flight was the third in a series intended to validate the operation of the ramjet engine and target vehicle. Aerojet is responsible for the development and production of the ramjet engine that powers the Coyote missile during the extended high-speed cruise phase. The 108-second flight at Mach 2.5, the equivalent of traveling from Los Angeles to San Diego in under four minutes, included pre-programmed aggressive weaving maneuvers, dives, and climbs that provided valuable engine operating data. Additional flight-testing was planned in 2005 to complete the development program and enter full rate production.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2017 19:18:48 ZULU