SINGAPORE AIRSHOW: Interest Growing in Leonardo's Missile Decoy System (UPDATED)

By Meredith Roaten
BriteCloud decoy concept art

Leonardo illustration

The U.S. Air National Guard recently approved a new decoy technology for operational tests on its F-16 fleets. U.S. interest in the technology has been a big selling point for the canisters that are ejected from aircraft to throw missiles off their targets, said an executive for its manufacturer, Italian defense contractor Leonardo.

The countermeasure known as BriteCloud 218 has caught the attention of several “key customers” who met with  Leonardo this week on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow, said Paul Haylett, head of Leonardo's strategic sales campaigns for electronic warfare systems, said Feb. 17.

Once ejected from an aircraft, the expendable active decoy draws missile fire away from a fighter by emitting a “ghost signal.” Radio-frequency guided missiles and fire control radars will latch onto that signal instead of targeting the plane, creating wide "miss distances." This circumvents missile technology that is able to find an aircraft by tracking where a jamming signal is emitting — otherwise known as home-on-jam technology — according to Leonardo.

Several countries in the Indo-Pacific region which fly the F-16 have been closely following the testing process, Haylett said. While Leonardo declined to comment on specific contries, Singapore and Korea are both major regional operators of the F-16.

“They want to be sure and happy that it works within that environment,” Haylett said on the sidelines of the airshow.

Adversaries’ missile technology is constantly becoming more advanced, Haylett noted.

“All of these aircraft carry the same threat now with extended range, ground-based air defense systems,” he said. Opposing aircraft "need to be able to counter that wherever they're operating.” BrightCloud can also adapt and reprogram threat modes during flight, company literature said.

The Guard should complete live testing of BriteCloud 218 by the end of 2022, he said.

A military customer's ability to buy BriteCloud “off the shelf” is attractive because it saves time and resources. The system can be launched into the air using existing countermeasure canisters, meaning little adjustment is needed to integrate it with other aircraft, he said.

“It also then speeds up deployment as well. You can get that system quickly with minimal integration. That’s really important,” he said.

BriteCloud has also been tested on German platforms and a Danish F-16, according to company press releases.

An older, bigger variant of the decoy is already in deployment for the Royal Air Force on the Tornado multirole combat aircraft and is being integrated with the service’s fighter jet the Eurofighter Typhoon, according to Leonardo.

Haylett added after the product passes the foreign comparative test with the Air National Guard, it can be used by the joint forces.

“We are also providing higher power variants that then look at larger transport aircraft and special mission aircraft,” he added.

Editor's note: In a previous version, this article referred to the product as BriteCloud 518. The error has been corrected. 

Topics: Global Defense Market

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