Raytheon will begin the next phase of development for the US Air Force’s first stand-in jammer platform scheduled to enter operational service after 2013.
The $80.2 million contract announced on 31 March will allow Raytheon to launch the second phase of risk reduction for the jammer variant of the Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD) called MALD-J.
The USAF wants the vehicle to launch against pre-planned targets, jamming the radars of an integrated air defense system before friendly aircraft are detected. The same vehicle, which is intended to be unrecoverable, also must function as a decoy.
Along with an upgrade for the EC-130 Compass Call, MALD-J is all that remains of the USAF’s once-vaunted concept for an airborne electronic attack “systems of systems”, which emerged in 2002.
MALD-J and the now-cancelled Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) would have performed the stand-in jamming role, while the aborted B-52 Stand-off Jammer System would have been aimed at blocking an enemy’s long-range early warning radars.
The US Navy’s Boeing EA-18G Growler, meanwhile, is moving forward in the “escort jamming” role.
The SOJS may be revived in a proposed new programme called Core Component Jammer (CCJ), which has already drawn a teaming agreement by Boeing and Northrop Grumman.
Raytheon declined to comment on MALD-J for this article.
The USAF originally planned to launch development of the MALD-J in 2006, but instead opted to stretch out the schedule by introducing a two-phase risk reduction effort.
MALD in-flight (Source: Raytheon)
Read about the USN's next-generational jammer concept here.