The US Air Force has awarded a contract to Raytheon for a third production lot of the miniature air-launched decoy (MALD).

Under the $96.7m contract, Raytheon will build almost 300 additional decoys, nearly equal to the combined total of the first two batches.

The US-based defence contractor will also deliver the MALD-Jammer (MALD-J) in preparation for the initial operational test and evaluation phase, production of which is expected to begin in 2011.

Weighing 300lb and with a range of 500nm, MALD is a low-cost, decoy flight vehicle that is modular, air-launched and programmable.

USAF MALD programme manager Ken Watson said that MALD protected aircrews and aircraft by mimicking the signatures and combat flight profiles of US and allied aircraft.

Raytheon’s MALD programme director Scott Muse said it could be certified on any aircraft with a 14in suspension carriage and its modular design provided numerous options beyond the stand-in jammer.