Leonardo Aerospace has taken the wraps off of its new expendable electronic countermeasures decoy for protecting large military transport aircraft. Billed as the first of its kind for transport protection, the BriteCloud 55-T is designed to hide the radar signature of large aircraft like the C27-J, C-130, KC-390, and A400M and confuse the targeting systems of radar-guided missiles.

Ever since chaff was first deployed during the Second World War as a countermeasure against radar, there has been a continual cat and mouse game between the hunter and the hunted when it comes to electronic warfare. As soon as one group of engineers comes up with more sophisticated radar systems, another group invents more cunning stealth technology to foil them by hiding or decoying.

One recent example of this is Leonardo Aerospace's BriteCloud line of expendable decoys. About the size of a soda can, these little cylinders with spring-loaded airfoils contain a miniaturized radio-frequency (RF) jamming module. In the event of an enemy missile locking onto an aircraft, the pilot can eject the module and it will send out an intense electromagnetic signal that will blind the incoming missile radar to the aircraft and draw it off target.

Previously, Leonardo has confined itself to marketing the BriteCloud 55, which is designed to protect fighter jets like the Tornado that are equipped with standard 55-mm flare and chaff dispensers, and the BriteCloud 218, which is intended for fighters like the F-16 that have square format dispensers.

The BriteCloud 55 has already passed live-fire tests and has been adopted by Britain's Royal Air Force for its Tornado GR4 fighter bomber fleet, but these variants aren't capable of protecting large transport aircraft. That's because transports have larger radar profiles and require much more powerful transmitters to send out an adequate jamming signal.

According to Leonardo, the BriteCloud 55-T uses more advanced miniaturization technology to produce the needed signal without increasing the size of the decoy. In addition, it can fit into the standard and square dispensers using an adapter.

The BriteCloud 55-T was unveiled at the Electronic Warfare Europe 2018 conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. It's still in development, but Leonardo is accepting advance orders for deliveries early next year.

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