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FARNBOROUGH: USAF contracts Raytheon to develop navy-specific decoy

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Raytheon has been awarded $34.8 million by the US Air Force to develop a new version of its miniature air-launched decoy-jammer missile, the MALD-X.

A 24-month development will result in two demonstrations, and will evolve the current MALD-J system into a decoy that could fit the US Navy’s requirement for use on-board its Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

“What we’re hoping in the long term is to transition this into the MALD-N for the US Navy,” James Long, MALD business development lead at Raytheon, tells Flight Daily News. “Right now the navy is not on-board with MALD – they want it, but it hasn’t been in the budget.”

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MALD deceives adversaries by replicating the signature of friendly aircraft, and the new development will see it receive an improved electronic warfare payload, the ability to carry out low-altitude flight, and an enhanced net-enabled datalink.

Currently MALD is operated on-board the US Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-16 and Boeing B-52 bomber, with no export customers to date. However, Long says: “There is international interest for the MALD decoy, and we are working on that.”

There is also potential for the decoy to be incorporated on-board unmanned air vehicles, although this is yet to be tested. Long notes that the decoy can be easily integrated with other platforms, such as UAVs or other fourth-generation types, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The USN also could join the USAF to acquire the decoy jointly, Long says, although this has not yet been decided on.