ROME ― Italy’s Leonardo is targeting the Eurofighter, F-15 and F-16 aircraft as the next customers for its new BriteCloud Expendable Missile Decoy after an order was placed by the the British Royal Air Force for its Tornado jets.
Leonardo said last month that the decoy, which is designed to fool radar-guided missiles, had been accepted by the Royal Air Force for its Tornadoes following tests carried out by the service’s 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron in the U.S. last year.
Now, the 1.1-kilogram, 55mm-in-diameter cylindrical BriteCloud rounds produced for the Roayl Air Force are being matched by a square format weighing ― 0.5 kilograms for F-15s and F-16s ― to be fired from the widely used ALE-47 chaff and flare dispenser.
Last year, the soda can-sized system was trialed with Danish F-16s. It is also being offered with the Gripen.
Released when a radar-guided missile approaches an aircraft, BriteCloud includes a radar-jamming system and produces a ghost signal that fools radar guidance systems.
Leonardo hopes customers looking to add decoys to aircraft will buy the system instead of a towed decoy, “which is a huge integration issue,” according to Jon McCullagh, head of combat air sales for electronic warfare at the Leonardo Airborne and Space Systems. Division
The firm is also talking to Eurofighter about the BriteCloud complementing the towed decoy already used on the aircraft, said McCullagh, because it can put more distance between itself and the aircraft than the towed version, drawing missiles further away.
“The battery lasts approximately 10 seconds, by which time the decoy has drawn radars sufficiently far away from the aircraft that it takes a significant time for a system to switch back to searching for the target and locking on,” McCullagh said.
The U.S. has previously used the Gen-X expendable decoy, but Leonardo claims its new product is the first digital expendable decoy on the market and the most powerful to date. It did not give details of the cost.
“The Tornado contract was let under single-source contract regulations, as there are no alternative suppliers of this technology,” McCullagh noted.