Douglas Barrie /LONDON
DAIMLER-BENZ Aerospace (DASA) Airborne Systems is developing a towed radar decoy for transport- and combat-aircraft applications, for use against radar-guided air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles.
The decoy has been successfully test-flown against monopulse radar emitters. In the transport-aircraft variant, the towed decoy would be retractable into a housing, while the combat-aircraft version would be recoverable. Once deployed from a fast jet, the decoy would be dropped before the aircraft was landed at its operating base.
Some sources claim that DASA had problems initially, when the decoy "porpoised" behind the aircraft. To be effective, a decoy must be able to follow closely the path of a manoeuvring aircraft.
The German air force is interested in fitting the decoy to its Transall C.160 transports. It is also interested in fitting Eurofighter EF2000s with a towed decoy as part of the aircraft's defensive-aids subsystem (DASS).
Germany pulled out of the multi-national Eurofighter DASS on cost grounds. Initially, it looked at purchasing a reduced-capability DASS independently, but this concept has also been dropped. Now there are indications that it would like to rejoin the multi-national DASS programme for the EF2000.
Other Eurofighter partners are also considering deploying towed decoys. The Royal Air Force already uses GEC-Marconi-developed systems on its Panavia Tornados.
Raytheon E-Systems is to install ALE-50 towed decoys on ten ALQ-184(V)9 electronic-countermeasures pods under a $5.2 million US Air Force contract to demonstrate an improved self-protection capability. Flight tests are planned for later this year.
The US company hopes that the contract will lead to the upgrading of some of the more than 850 ALQ-184 pods delivered to the USAF since 1989. The ALE-50 consists of an expendable transmitter, which is deployed on a cable behind the aircraft.