April 17, 2012

France tests its ship defense with U.S. Navy’s Supersonic Sea Skimming Target


Photograph courtesy of French DGA
As part of a foreign military sales case, the U.S. Navy's GQM-163A Coyote Supersonic Sea Skimming Target is launched from the Mediterranean island of Levant during a live-fire presentation April 4.

As part of a foreign military sales case, the U.S. Navy worked together with French military to execute France’s first aerial-target live-fire event using a GQM-163A Coyote Supersonic Sea Skimming Target, or missile, April 4.

France’s military procurement agency Direction Generale Pour L’Armement worked with representatives from the Navy Aerial Target and Decoy Systems program office and Orbital Sciences Corporation of Chandler, Ariz., to provide the GQM-163A SSST for a live presentation on a military test range off the coast of France.

The foreign military sales case, which began in 2006, included procurement of one GQM-163A SSST, lease of support equipment and range integration. DGA, NAVAIR and OSC stood up the SSST launch capability on the Mediterranean island of Levant in 2011, one of only three GQM-163A launch sites worldwide.

“Such a complex test would not have been possible without the expertise and will of a whole and diverse team, made of people from NAVAIR, Point Mugu, Orbital, the U.S. Embassy in Paris, the French Navy, the French Missile test center, the French Embassy in Washington and many others,” said Col. Mathieu Fossat, assistant Defense Cooperation attachÈ for French naval and air systems.

During this highly technical test, a first for Europe, the target was used to simulate an anti-ship cruise missile threat whose speed and evasive maneuvers compress the amount of time a defense system has to react. Shortly after the target launched, a French air defense destroyer, Forbin, intercepted the Coyote target with an Aster 30 surface-to-air missile.

Clay Myers, PMA-208 FMS lead who witnessed last week’s launch, said he and the team received positive feedback from French representatives on site. The target was in the “green zone” for the duration of the flight, meaning it was where it was expected to be, he added.

“We are pleased the SSST presentation was useful to DGA’s evaluation effort and look forward to working with them in the future, said Capt. Dan McNamara, PMA-208 program manager. “The entire team of French and U.S. professionals who worked for the past five years to achieve this success should be congratulated.”

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