Leonardo signs up to be the first company to work with the Royal Air Force's new Rapid Capability Office
- The Rapid Capability Office’s first joint project will see Leonardo and the RAF work together on next generation RF countermeasures
- Both organisations will work together on the next generation of missile-jamming decoys and bring Leonardo’s BriteCloud decoy rapidly into service
- BriteCloud, proven effective in trials on RAF Tornado jets, is the world’s only expendable decoy to have been tested successfully against modern radar systems
Leonardo has announced, at the IDEF exhibition in İstanbul, Turkey on the 9th May, that it has signed up as the first company to partner with the UK Royal Air Force’s newly-established Rapid Capability Office (RCO). The RCO has been created to bring new technologies and capabilities to the war fighter, in a faster more streamlined fashion.
The RCO’s first joint project will see the RAF and Leonardo each invest into a project that will develop the next generation of fighter jet countermeasures known as ‘expendable active decoys’ (EADs), using Leonardo’s test-proven BriteCloud EAD technology. The RCO and Leonardo are also working to clear the existing BriteCloud EAD for operational use.
BriteCloud is a radar jamming decoy for fighter aircraft that can be deployed from a standard chaff and flare dispenser. It protects aircraft from modern, sophisticated radar-guided missiles that are able to outwit older, anti-radar countermeasures such as chaff. The incoming missile is drawn to the BriteCloud and misses the aircraft by a large margin. Manufactured by Leonardo in the UK, BriteCloud being offered to a number of export nations.
BriteCloud is what is known as a ‘second generation’ expendable active decoy (EAD). First generation EADs were developed towards the end of the cold war. They used early jamming techniques that would not defeat today’s more advanced missiles, guided as they are by sophisticated radars on the ground or even on the missile itself. BriteCloud, which uses much smarter on-board jamming techniques, is the first ‘second generation’ EAD to have been proven in live trials to defeat these more advanced threats. BriteCloud’s effectiveness was demonstrated in launches from RAF Tornado aircraft announced in March 2016. The new collaboration between Leonardo and the RAF will see the two organisations jointly develop ‘third generation’ EADs; details of which are currently classified.
A quantity of BriteCloud decoys has already been acquired by the RAF with a view to writing CONOPS (concepts of operations) for the decoy, effectively a ‘user guide' for pilots who will use the countermeasure on operations.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has already invested around £25 Million in the innovative BriteCloud EAD technology through research undertaken by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), flight trial-based demonstration of the EAD using an RAF Tornado aircraft in 2015, managed by the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Technology Office, and further flight trials conducted in early 2017.