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Germany tests BriteCloud radar-guided missile decoy from target drone

BriteCloud radar-guided missile decoy
Photo: Leonardo

The German Armed Forces have recently completed a test launch of the BriteCloud radar-guided missile decoy from an Airbus RPATS test drone, decoy manufacturer Leonardo announced.

The trial had the aim of evaluating the decoy’s potential in protecting flying weapon systems from radar-guided missiles and has been deemed a success, Leonardo says.

Airbus, Leonardo and the German analysis and testing firm IABG worked together to eject BriteCloud 218 rounds from the RPATS during flight, allowing the aircraft to successfully evade missiles equipped with semi-active radar (SAR) seeker technology.

BriteCloud is a flare-sized electronic device that protects aircraft from the most modern radar-guided missiles. Launched from a standard countermeasure dispenser, it transmits radio emissions that simulate the missile’s expected target, drawing the threat towards BriteCloud and away from the aircraft.

Leonardo claims to be the only company to have successfully miniaturized such jamming technology into a flare-sized package.

What is more, the German trial marked the first time BriteCloud has been launched from an RPATS platform.

The decoy does not require integration and fits into a standard-sized rectangular countermeasure casing measuring two by one by eight inches. This means it is compatible with a range of common dispensers such as the AN/ALE-47, making it possible to boost the defenses of older F-series jets such as the F-15 and F-16, as well as smaller RPAS platforms.

BriteCloud 218 is also currently undergoing the United States Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program, led by the US Air National Guard (ANG), which could lead to the decoy entering service with the United States Air Force (USAF) Air Combat Command and other US services.

Meanwhile, Leonardo’s original BriteCloud 55 decoy (which is slightly larger and compatible with round 55mm flare dispensers such as those on the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen), has already gone into active service with the UK’s Royal Air Force.