14 September 2021 – Upcoming flight trials set to pave the way for a procurement decision on Leonardo’s expendable active decoy by the United States Government. BriteCloud is a world-first countermeasure technology which uses miniaturized jamming to protect combat aircraft from incoming missiles. Designed and built in the UK, BriteCloud has seen service with the Royal Air Force.
Aerospace, defence and security company Leonardo’s BriteCloud 218 expendable active decoy is progressing quickly towards flight trials with US Air National Guard (ANG) F-16 jets. These are the final stages in the US Department of Defense’s Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) programme for the product. Successful completion of the FCT will open the door to potential US procurement.
BriteCloud is a radio frequency countermeasure for combat, transport and special mission aircraft. Fired like a flare, it uses a powerful miniature jammer to protect the aircraft from radar-guided surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. Uniquely, BriteCloud packs gold-standard electronic warfare jamming technology known as DRFM (Digital Radio Frequency Memory) into each round. DRFM allows BriteCloud to transmit a convincing ‘electronic ghost’ signal to lure away incoming missiles, keeping the crew and aircraft safe.
The US Foreign Comparative Testing programme is designed to find, evaluate and field products produced by US allies where they offer unique capabilities at high technology readiness levels. Leonardo’s BriteCloud, a world-first technology designed and manufactured in the UK, was selected for the FCT programme in 2019 following its entry into service with the UK’s Royal Air Force.
Since then, Leonardo and the US ANG have worked closely together during pandemic conditions to drive the FCT forward, including delivering training to members of the ANG test team from across the US. Modules to-date have covered programming and testing the decoy using BriteCloud demonstration units. Further planned training includes loading mission data onto BriteCloud rounds.
Flight trials with instrumented inert rounds are planned for later this year, with live fire exercises taking place in early 2022. BriteCloud has been extensively tested and its capability proven prior to its entry into service with the Royal Air Force, so Leonardo is confident that the FCT programme will be similarly successful.
BriteCloud is available in different variants for a range of aircraft types. The US ANG is evaluating the BriteCloud 218 (2x1x8 inch ‘brick’ round), which is compatible with the Air National Guard’s F-16 dispensing system. BriteCloud is also available in a ‘55’ variant, suitable for 55mm round-format dispensers on aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen E and Tornado GR4, and a ‘55-T’ variant, designed to protect transport aircraft, special mission aircraft and helicopters.
Photo courtesy Leonardo