DULLES, Va., Aug. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- This month Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) commemorates its one-year anniversary of executing the MQM-8 VANDAL target launch services contract for the United States Navy Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). Orbital acquired the VANDAL target vehicle contract in 2000 from Honeywell International. During the past year, Orbital launched 24 target vehicles for the program, achieving the best operational results ever during a one-year period for the VANDAL system.
The VANDAL target vehicle is a Mach-2 plus supersonic cruise missile, which flies at altitudes ranging from 70,000 feet to 12 feet above sea level. It is based on the tactical ramjet-powered Talos missile, which completed production in the late 1960s and was withdrawn from service in the 1970s. At low altitudes, the target can fly in excess of 40 nautical miles and has become the Navy's primary target for simulating the mid-course and terminal phases of anti-ship cruise missiles.
Commenting on the one-year anniversary of Orbital's involvement with the VANDAL target vehicle, Orbital's Program Manager, Mr. Joe Schafer, said, "We can directly attribute VANDAL program's significant improvements in reliability to having a dedicated and capable project team, including Navy and associate contractor personnel, who share Orbital's success-driven quality standards. We are very proud to have supported every scheduled mission request over the past year."
Orbital is also developing the Navy's next generation anti-ship cruise missile target, the GQM-163A, also know as the Supersonic Sea Skimming Target (SSST), under an Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract with NAVAIR. Flight testing of the GQM-163A is scheduled for 2003, with Initial Operational Capability (IOC) scheduled for mid-2004. Until the GQM-163A becomes operational, VANDAL targets will be utilized for the Navy's anti-ship missile tests. Orbital is the only U.S. Department of Defense prime contractor to be both developing and operating ramjet-powered launch systems.
Mr. Ronald J. Grabe, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Orbital's Launch Systems Group, said "We are extremely pleased to be performing the VANDAL target launch services for the Navy and are proud of the significant increase in system reliability. The logistics and operations experience gained through conducting VANDAL launch services will be very valuable as we go forward with the GQM-163A program and other Navy missile opportunities being pursued by Orbital."
Orbital develops and manufactures affordable space systems, including satellites, launch vehicles, and advanced space systems. Orbital is also involved with satellite-based networks that provide wireless data communications and high-resolution Earth imagery to customers all around the world.
More information about Orbital can be found at: http://www.orbital.com .
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SOURCE Orbital Sciences Corporation
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