The Royal Air Force (RAF) has begun testing the latest version of the BriteCloud missile decoy on its Typhoon fighter aircraft. At the Typhoon Ministerial Meeting in Germany, British Defence minister Stuart Andrew revealed that the disposable soda-can-sized anti-radar electronics packages began testing in April by the RAF's 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron based at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

Designed and built by Leonardo Aerospace in Luton, Bedfordshire, Britecloud is a line of expendable anti-missile decoys. With mission programmable electronics packages, the small canisters come in a number of variants to fit different aircraft. Each canister has spring-loaded airfoils and contains a miniaturized radio-frequency (RF) jamming module.

When an enemy missile locks onto an aircraft, the pilot ejects the decoy through the aircraft's flare dispenser and it sends out an intense electromagnetic signal that blinds the incoming missile radar to the aircraft and draws it off target.

In the recent tests, the RAF dispensed 33 BriteCloud rounds from Typhoon fighters against a series of simulated battlefield threats. The trials were not only to demonstrate the effectiveness of the decoy, but also that the canisters can be launched safely from the Typhoon.

Additional testing will involve launching BriteCloud from military helicopters and the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. The Ministry of Defence says that if the trials are successful, the decoy will be available for deployment by the end of the year.

"The initial flight-trial of Bright-cloud from RAF Typhoon aircraft was a key milestone in moving closer towards a viable and extremely valuable capability for the warfighter," says Wing Commander Pete Ward, SO1 Typhoon. "Trials will now move to operational testing and validation before the initial operating capability is declared, planned at this time for later in 2019."

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