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New decoy missile, MALD-X, completes successful flight demonstrations

A series of free flight demonstrations of the Miniature Air-Launched Decoy X (MALD-X) at Naval Air Warfare Center Point Mugu, California on 20 August and 22 August were completed successfully, according to the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering's Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO).

The MALD-X is a next generation of decoy missiles developed by Raytheon. The air-launched missile is an expendable vehicle that is designed to look like a US or allied aircraft to enemy air defense systems.

The MALD-X is intended to be used on-board the US Navy’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. The current MALD decoys are compatible with and operated on-board the US Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-16 and Boeing B-52 bomber.

"The rapid development and demonstration was made possible by the cross-service technical collaboration between the Air Force and Navy", said Chris Shank, SCO director. "The MALD-X is [to be handed] over to the Navy to complete system development and transition to an operational capability. The superb cross-service technical teamwork is an exemplar for future innovative projects."

The original MALD weighs less than 136kg (300lb) and has a range of approximately 500nm (926km), according to Raytheon. The company also produces a MALD-J variant, which operates as a stand-in electronics jammer.

Compared to its predecessor, the MALD-X will have an improved electronic warfare payload, the ability to carry out low-altitude flight and an enhanced net-enabled datalink. Raytheon was awarded $34.8 million by the USAF to develop a new version in 2016.

SCO says it plans to conduct additional tests on other enhancements to the MALD-X next year.

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