IMI's TALD could protect ground-attack aircraft, although Ministry of Defence plays down plans to buy the system

The UK Ministry of Defence has shown early interest in integrating Israel Military Industries' (IMI) tactical air-launched decoy (TALD) with the Royal Air Force's BAE Systems Harrier GR7/9 ground-attack aircraft, the Israeli manufacturer says.

An initial study has been undertaken to assess the possibility of fitting the expendable TALD to the Harriers, with the enhanced ITALD design also under consideration, says IMI.

Onboard emitters enable the 1.7m (5.7ft) -long decoy to replicate the radar cross-section of a manned fighter aircraft to confuse or activate enemy air defences - a capability that could protect the Harrier during close air-support operations.

The 172kg (380lb) ITALD is capable of pre-programmed flight over a range of 300km (160nm), operating at altitudes of 500ft to 30,000ft (150-9,150m). The system is already in service with the US Navy and was evaluated for possible use with the Royal Australian Air Force's Boeing F-18 Hornets in late 2002.

The UK Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) plays down IMI's claims, however, noting: "TALD is not part of the current equipment programme for the Harrier, and there is no plan to buy the system from Israel Military Industries or the US Navy at this time." However, its mention of the US Navy suggests that the UK could be interested in acquiring excess decoys from the service, which has more than 6,000 TALDs in stock. IMI is upgrading these to the ITALD standard by fitting a new lower section, including a replacement turbojet engine.

IMI says other possible future upgrades include the provision of an extended-range capability, improved manoeuvreability and enhanced electronic-warfare equipment. A scaled-down version has been considered for use on unmanned air vehicles, although IMI says operators favour the availability of towed decoys for such platforms.

n BAE delivered its first of six prototype Harrier GR9s to the RAFon 2 December, with the Capability Aaircraft featuring a new mission computer. The upgraded GR9 will receive military aircraft release approval in April 2005 to support operational evaluation of the type, which will be ready for frontline use by September 2006.

The aircraft will receive subsequent capability updates under a programme run by BAE, the DLO and Qinetiq, including Raytheon's AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile in 2005 and the Successor identification friend or foe system and Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb in late 2006. BAE says it is unaware of any plan to integrate an air-launched decoy with the GR9.


Source: Flight International