Raytheon has partnered with Fokker Technologies and Dallara to develop a lower-cost carbon fibre airframe for the US Air Force’s (USAF) miniature air launched decoy (MALD).
The team applied robotics and formula racing technologies to reduce airframe production costs by 25%, and Raytheon will include the new innovative composite design in this year’s Lot 7 production.
Raytheon MALD programmes director Scott Muse said: "MALD is a cost-efficient, modular system that can protect manned aircraft from the need to engage threats and make stand-off munitions even more lethal.
"Driving affordability is a key element of customer success. Through the partnership with Fokker, Dallara and the US Air Force, we delivered MALD’s capabilities at a lower price."
A manufacturer of advanced structures and electrical systems for aerospace and defence, Fokker helped to adapt robots to wind the carbon fibre fuselage, rather than depend on the traditional, hand-built approach.
Meanwhile, Dallara applied the lightweight and strong structural technologies used in Indy car racing to airframe accessories, including covers and air inlets.
Weighing less than 300lb, the ADM-160 MALD is an advanced, air-launched and programmable flight vehicle designed to confuse enemy integrated air defence systems, by duplicating friendly aircraft flight profiles and radar signatures on the battlefield.
The low-cost vehicle is capable of duplicating all combat flight profiles and signatures of US and allied aircraft over a range of approximately 500nm, and executes a pre-programmed mission following its release from the host aircraft, primarily the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
MALD-J weighs less than 300lb and is designed to degrade and prevent an early warning or acquisition radar from establishing a track on a strike aircraft, while also maintaining the ability to fulfil the basic decoy mission.
The weapon adds radar-jamming capability to the basic MALD platform, and can function either as a standalone system or in pairs, and can also loiter in the target area for an extended period of time, ensuring mission completion.