Raytheon is proceeding with development of the miniature air-launched decoy (MALD) for the US Air Force after the General Accounting Office denied a protest from one of the losing bidders for the $88 million contract.

A baseline review planned for mid-October will finalise the schedule, which calls for a first flight in December 2005, says programme manager Jerry Rutt.

The MALD will be carried by Boeing B-52s and Lockheed Martin F-16s and launched to mimic the radar signature and flight profile of the attacking aircraft. Ten test flights are planned in the system development and demonstration phase, and the US Air Force plans to acquire 1,500 rounds. A Spiral 1 jammer version, MALD-J, is also planned.

The design features a variable-geometry pop-out wing, to be swept 45-60° when the composite-airframe decoy is flying at Mach 0.8-0.9 at altitude, and 30° when flying at M0.7-0.8 at low altitude. For MALD-J, Rutt says, the wing would have zero sweep for maximum endurance when cruising at M0.6-0.7 at altitude.

Source: Flight International