The Naval Air Systems Command (Patuxent River, MD) has awarded a $57 million contract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. (Chandler, AZ) for the manufacture and delivery of 19 production GQM-163A “Coyote” supersonic sea-skimming targets. Three of the Coyotes are for the government of Japan and 16 for the U.S. Navy. Because of its unique capabilities, GQM-163A launches have been conducted for several foreign customers in addition to the U.S. Navy. Work on the production-ready target vehicles will be performed at several Northrop Grumman facilities, including in Camden, AK, Chandler, AZ, and Vergennes, VT, with the contract expected to be completed in December 2023.
The GQM-163A Coyote integrates a solid-fuel, ramjet air-breathing ducted rocket propulsion system into a missile airframe that is 18 ft. long and 14 in. in diameter (see figure). The high-performance vehicle, which has been rail launched from naval test and training ranges, achieves speeds of greater than Mach 2.5 while flying just 15 ft. above the ocean’s surface. The highly maneuverable vehicle can reach altitudes of more than 50,000 ft. while flying with 10 g of acceleration. It has two flight trajectories to combat ocean-bound targets: sea skimmer and high-diving flight patterns.