Leonardo has been contracted by the UK Ministry of Defence to support a series of trials in which the ‘BriteCloud 55’ Expendable Active Decoy (EAD) will be deployed for operations with the Royal Air Force (RAF)’s fleet of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
The first trial with Typhoon took place in April in the UK. At this trial, 33 BriteCloud rounds were dispensed from aircraft flown by the RAF’s 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron against a range of representative threats.
BriteCloud packs digital protection from dangerous radar-guided missiles into a package the size of a drinks can, fitting into the same launcher as a standard 55mm flare.
Leonardo is currently the only company in the world which has managed to sufficiently miniaturise Digital RF Memory (DRFM) countermeasure technology to the point where it can be launched from a standard chaff and flare dispenser. In 2018 the RAF became the first Air Force to field this new protective technology.
Prior to accepting BriteCloud into service on Tornado, the UK MOD conducted extensive testing to validate the performance of the decoy, ensuring it could be launched safely from the aircraft and developing operational tactics for its use in battle. It is intended that this work will be used to support the agile delivery of BriteCloud into sevice on Typhoon.
A range of BriteCloud variants are available. As well as the ‘BriteCloud 55’ variant, named for its compatibility with 55mm flare dispensers such as those on the Typhoon and Gripen E, Leonardo also produces ‘BriteCloud 218’ (2”x1”x8”) which is compatible with ‘square’ format countermeasure dispensers such as those seen on F-15 and F-16 aircraft.
In addition, Leonardo offers the BriteCloud 55-T, a more powerful version of the BriteCloud 55 which can generate jamming signals strong enough to protect larger aircraft such as the C27-J, C-130 and A400M.