DULLES, Va.May 19, 2004--Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE:ORB) announced today that it successfully flight-tested the GQM-163A "Coyote" Supersonic Sea-Skimming Target (SSST) system for the United States Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on May 18, 2004. The flight test, conducted at the Navy's missile test range in southern California, is part of a series of flights Orbital will conduct under the company's SSST Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract from NAVAIR. Orbital was awarded the EMD contract in 2000 to meet the Navy's requirement for an affordable SSST to simulate supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles for fleet training and weapon systems research, development, test and evaluation.
The GQM-163A Coyote 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 Navy test and training ranges, the highly maneuverable GQM-163A Coyote achieves cruise speeds of 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.
The flight test of the GQM-163A Coyote had several primary objectives, all of which were achieved. They included verification of booster ignition and stable first stage flight; the verification of the transition of the ducted rocket ramjet from booster separation to inlet start; and the verification of the ducted rocket ramjet ignition and powered flight performance. In addition, the test target missile was heavily instrumented in order to collect flight environment data to refine aerodynamic and guidance models in preparation for follow-on guided flight tests to be carried out later this year.
Mr. Ron Grabe, Orbital's Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Launch Systems Group, said, "We are extremely pleased with the results of this flight test of the GQM-163A Coyote. The test results provide our team with valuable data as we prepare for other flights later this year and progress toward the delivery of production units in late 2004."
The GQM-163A Coyote flight test represented a significant milestone for the American aerospace industry: the first successful U.S. flight of solid-fuel ducted rocket ramjet. It also was the first successful flight test of a new domestic ramjet missile configuration in over ten years.
Orbital is the only U.S. Department of Defense prime contractor to be both developing and operating ramjet-powered missile systems. In addition to developing the GQM-163A Coyote, Orbital provides the Navy with launch services for the MQM-8 VANDAL SSST. The MQM-8 VANDAL is based on the liquid-fuel ramjet-powered Talos missile and provides the Navy with a legacy SSST until the more capable GQM-163A Coyote is operational.
Orbital is developing and manufacturing the GQM-163A Coyote 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 CEi in Sacramento, California for the vehicle's avionics system.
Orbital develops and manufactures small space and rocket systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. The company's primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-orbit, geosynchronous and planetary spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also offers space-related technical services to government agencies and develops and builds satellite-based transportation management systems for public transit agencies and private vehicle fleet operators.
More information about Orbital can be found at http://www.orbital.com Notes to Editors: -- A Fact Sheet on the GQM-163A Coyote SSST can be found on Orbital's web site at: http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/Publications/index.html -- A high-resolution artist rendering of the GQM-163A Coyote SSST, suitable for publication, is available on Orbital's web site at: http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/Images/MissileDefense/index.html
CONTACT: Orbital Sciences Corporation Barron Beneski, 703-406-5528 firstname.lastname@example.org SOURCE: Orbital Sciences Corporation