BAE Systems developing next-gen towable anti-missile decoy
BAE Systems has been awarded a US Navy US$36.7 million contract to build an advanced dual-band Fiber-Optic Towed Decoy (FOTD) designed to protect military aircraft from missile attacks. Designed to be trailed behind fighters, bombers, and transports, the torpedo-shaped Dual-Band Decoy works by jamming or confusing missile radar systems.
Ever since they were first developed, there has been an ongoing arms race between radar targeting systems and the means to counter them. This is particularly important in the realm of missiles, which can close on their targets at supersonic speeds and can cause major damage even if their warhead fails to detonate on impact.
There are any number of radar countermeasures of which BAE Systems' new FOTD is one. The Dual-Band Decoy being developed for the Navy is based on the company's AN/ALE-55 FOTD, of which 3,000 have been built and has seen service with the US Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Royal Saudi Air Force.
The Dual-Band Decoy consists of the towable unit that is connected by a fiberoptic cable to its onboard electronics warfare unit aboard the aircraft. These can either operate with the craft's own systems or independently.
In the event of a missile attack, the Dual-band Decoy has three ways of responding. The first and primary means is to detect the incoming missile's radar signal, analyze it, and then jam it, preventing a target lock. If this doesn't work and the missile locks on, the second response is to use multiple selective jamming signals to break the lock. If that doesn't work, the third option kicks in and the decoy tries to fool the missile into attacking it instead of the aircraft by combining jamming with a false signal mimicking that of the aircraft's radar signature.
"Our towed decoys enable pilots to execute missions in highly contested airspace," says Tom McCarthy, Dual Band Decoy Program Director at BAE Systems. "ALE-55 FOTD is a reliable, high-powered jamming system with years of mission success on the F/A-18E/F and extensive flight-testing on a variety of aircraft. Under this new Dual Band Decoy contract, our focus will be building upon the ALE-55's proven performance in order to defeat the threats of tomorrow."
Source: BAE Systems