Home Air Leonardo’s BriteCloud mini RF decoy passes US Air National Guard trials

Leonardo’s BriteCloud mini RF decoy passes US Air National Guard trials

Britecloud decoy
Leonardo graphic

The US Air National Guard is pleased with the performance of Leonardo’s BriteCloud 218 miniaturized decoy and has recommended the system for fielding on F-16 fighters.

This was announced by the manufacturer of the radio frequency countermeasure, who also said the decoy would be designated AN/ALQ-260(V)1 in US Armed Forces service.

Fired like a flare, it uses a miniature jammer to protect combat, transport and special mission aircraft from radar-guided surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles.

BriteCloud packs electronic warfare jamming technology known as DRFM (Digital Radio Frequency Memory) into each round, which allows BriteCloud to transmit a convincing ‘electronic ghost’ signal to lure away incoming missiles, keeping the crew and aircraft safe.

The US Air National Guard (ANG) issued the ‘fielding recommendation’ after trialing BriteCloud since 2019. The recommendation means the service is confident that the decoy meets and, in some instances, even exceeds operational requirements, delivering an increased platform protection capability to 4th generation fighter aircraft like the F-16.

The US Air Force has subsequently designated BriteCloud 218 as AN/ALQ-260(V)1, identifying it as an airborne electronic warfare countermeasure.

The fielding recommendation by the ANG is one of the final stages of the program and gives the green light to BriteCloud 218 as proven effective and fit for operations, the company said.

According to Leonardo, BriteCloud is unique in the combat air countermeasure market, packing DRFM jamming technology into an expendable that can be launched from standard countermeasure dispensers. Unlike traditional chaff and flares, BriteCloud employs an on-board electronic warfare capability designed to counter radar-guided threats.

Designed and manufactured by Leonardo in the UK, BriteCloud has already entered service with the UK’s Royal Air Force. The variant used there is the original BriteCloud 55 decoy (a slightly larger variant, compatible with round 55mm flare dispensers such as those on the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen C/D).

The BriteCloud 218-variant rounds evaluated under the US Department of Defense’s Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program are standard-sized rectangular countermeasures measuring two by one by eight inches. This means they are compatible with common dispensers including the AN/ALE-47 and are ready to equip other 4th generation fighters such as the F-15, F/A-18, F-16 and A-10 fighters.

BriteCloud 218 is also an effective protection capability for smaller uncrewed platforms, with the German Armed Forces trialing the system with a target drone aircraft last year.