The US Navy should reconsider its opposition to fielding a towed radar decoy on its Boeing F/A-18C/Ds, says the US General Accounting Office (GAO).

The GAO wants the USN to conduct a detailed engineering analysis of the modifications needed to adapt towed decoys to the F/A-18C/D.

The GAO believes that the F/A-18C/D would benefit from towed decoys, and it cites studies that conclude that they "-would provide a greater increase in survivability for that aircraft than any jammer, including the Northrop Grumman/ITT Airborne Self Protection Jammer."

The US Air Force's Boeing F-15 and Lockheed Martin F-16 are destined to be protected by TRDs, as is the USN's F-18E/F.

Limited flight testing on the F/A-18C/D shows that the Raytheon ALE-50 decoy could be deployed from either a wing station or the centerline station of the aircraft but not without technical problems. The USN is unwilling to accept trading a weapon or fuel tank for a towed-decoy station. It adds that modification of the C/D's fuselage for internal carriage of a decoy "-is unaffordable due to volume, weight, power, and cooling constraints that would have to be addressed".

The GAO points out, however, that the USAF has modified a wing pylon to deploy successfully towed decoys from the F-16's wing while avoiding major aircraft modifications and without sacrificing a weapons station or a fuel tank.

Source: Flight International