Coleman screws the pooch on target missle

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency said on Thursday that a target missile that malfunctioned on Wednesday had been built by Coleman Aerospace, a unit of L-3 Communications Holdings Inc..

Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp. has a contract that covers “pre-test analysis of configuration and preparedness for launch” of targets, said Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman.

The faulty “Hera” missile was destroyed by safety officers at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, about two minutes into a test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense built by Lockheed Martin Corp..

No one at Coleman Aerospace of Orlando, Florida, could be reached for comment. An L-3 spokeswoman referred a caller back to the Missile Defense Agency. Lehner said the malfunctioning missile had been built using surplus Air Force rocket motors.

Northrop, in an e-mailed statement, said it played only a small role in analyzing the readiness of target missiles.

“We are not responsible for target vehicle activities during integration. We are part of a team of contractors involved in the launch,” said Marynoele Benson, a Northrop spokeswoman.