Rome 16 September 2016 18:20
The company’s new decoy, called BriteCloud, protects pilots from radar-guided missiles via a tiny-but-powerful jammer
Writing a ‘user guide’ (known as ‘CONOPS’) means the technology is not far away from use on real missions
The buy follows earlier successful trials with the RAF in October 2015
The UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) is a step closer to being the first to use Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s new ‘BriteCloud’ missile-jamming countermeasure, following a purchase by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) worth several million Euros. The buy, which will see a significant number of the decoys delivered, will enable the RAF to further evaluate BriteCloud’s protective effect with its fleet of Tornado jets and develop what the military calls a ‘concept of operations’ (or ‘CONOPS’) for the technology. A CONOPS essentially provides an instruction manual for the crews who will deploy with BriteCloud and the development of CONOPS is usually seen as the last step before the new technology goes into use on real missions.
BriteCloud will be delivered by the electronic warfare experts at Leonardo’s Luton site. The decoy provides digital countermeasure protection against air-to-air and surface-to-air radar-guided missiles in a package the size of a 55mm flare. It is currently the world’s only such system to have been sold and proven effective via end-to-end testing. Based on miniaturised jamming technology, BriteCloud is able to launch from a standard 55mm flare dispenser with no extra integration required.
The purchase follows previous RAF trials with the countermeasure at a specialist testing range in the US in October 2015. These trials proved the effectiveness of the BriteCloud decoys against modern, representative Radio Frequency (RF) threats. The next step towards a potential adoption for operational use by the RAF is the development of a concept of operations. This will allow the RAF to characterise the behavior of the decoy in realistic scenarios and develop ways to use it in combat. As part of this development, a series of further trials on RAF Tornadoes will take place to verify and extend the operational advantage of the countermeasure.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The cutting-edge technology behind BriteCloud demonstrates the MOD’s commitment to harnessing and growing the incredible creativity in our Defence supply chain. “Supported by our £178 billion investment in equipment, these new decoy systems show that we are continually pushing the boundaries of innovation, making the most of Great British skills and brains to keep our Armed Forces safe from our adversaries.”
The BriteCloud Expendable Active Decoy (EAD) has been developed by Leonardo in collaboration with the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the UK MoD's Defence Equipment and Support organisation.
BriteCloud was launched in November 2013 and is now in full production following successful trials on Tornado and Saab’s Gripen NG aircraft. Leonardo is working with Saab to offer the decoy as an electronic warfare enhancement option for its full range of Gripen jets including the upcoming ‘E’ model.
BriteCloud is dispensed from a standard 55mm flare cartridge and can be swapped for a 55mm flare with no further integration required. Leonardo is also working with a number of other manufacturers to adapt existing systems for the use of the 55mm cartridge.