Navy seeks to improve Coyote sea-skimming target's performance

By Abby Shepherd / February 12, 2024 at 3:23 PM

The Navy -- looking to increase the performance envelope of a sea-skimming target -- has asked Northrop Grumman to conduct a study into the target's capabilities.

Under a contract to be awarded in the first quarter of fiscal year 2025, Northrop Grumman will “perform a study to increase the performance envelope of the GQM-163A Coyote Supersonic Sea-Skimming Targets (SSST),” according to a notice posted Monday.

The Coyote target is used by the Navy to train and qualify systems and crews on naval vessels, according to a 2022 Northrop Grumman release. The Coyote was originally designed as a Mach 2.5+ sea-skimming target but was later improved to reach Mach 3.5+ as a diving target from an altitude over 50,000 feet.

Naval Air Systems Command awarded the Coyote program to Northrop Grumman in 2000 -- a contract worth over $329 million. As of 2022, the company had delivered more than 145 targets to the Navy.

U.S. Central Command continues to face attacks from Houthi rebels based in Yemen -- mostly unmanned surface vessels and anti-ship cruise missiles targeted against Navy ships and merchant vessels transiting the Red Sea. The improvement of the Coyote’s performance envelope could prove useful in the Navy’s mission of continued deterrence against Houthi attacks.