The BriteCloud Expendable Active Decoy (EAD) was launched to potential customers and the world’s media in late 2013 with defence company Saab being the first to offer the off-board decoy as an electronic warfare enhancement option on all Gripen fast-jet variants.
Following the success of trials with Gripen in April 2015, Leonardo has begun Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) of BriteCloud. The first production rounds will fulfil the testing and evaluation requirements of perspective clients.
BriteCloud offers aircrews an effective, affordable and self-contained Digital RF Memory (DRFM) jammer developed to protect against the modern threats facing today’s fast-jet aircraft. Designed to disrupt incoming missiles’ RF tracking systems and produce a large ‘miss distance’, the device is ejected from a standard 55mm flare dispenser. The incoming threat is drawn away from the aircraft, minimising the risk of an incoming missile exploding in close proximity of the aircraft.
The decoy represents a UK manufacturing success story. The engineering, development and ‘productisation’ of BriteCloud has been undertaken at the Luton facility of Leonardo in partnership with Chemring Countermeasures, and sources component parts from suppliers across the UK.
Assembly and testing of the off-board decoy was completed in June 2015, with the first of the decoys shipped to Chemring for final packaging and the addition of pyrotechnics before delivery to potential customers. The end result is that the latest Leonardo technological innovation has now evolved from the drawing board to become a fully qualified piece of hardware ready to fill a genuine electronic countermeasure capability gap.
In September 2016, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) purchased a significant number of the decoys to enable the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) to further evaluate BriteCloud’s protective effect with its fleet of Tornado jets and to develop what the military calls a ‘concept of operations’ (or ‘CONOPS’) for the technology.
As a programmable countermeasure, BriteCloud will remain relevant as threats evolve and new threats appear. End users can provide rapid response to threats within theatres of operation. The Leonardo Electronic Warfare Operational Support (EWOS) provision for BriteCloud will allow end users to program the decoys so that they are optimised to identify and respond to the emitters and threats that are likely to be encountered during a particular mission, and in a particular region.
The company is also developing the BriteCloud EAD for alternative countermeasure dispenser types including the widely used 218 dispenser.