Raytheon Gets $13M for 110 ALE-50 “Little Buddy” Controllers
Raytheon Co. Sensors and Electronic Systems Div. in Goleta, CA is being awarded a $13 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-05-C-0031), exercising an option for the full rate production of 110 integrated multi-platform launch controllers for the ALE-50 Advanced Expendable Airborne Decoy system used by US F-16 Falcon/Viper, F/A-18 Hornet family, and B-1B Lancer heavy bomber aircraft. At least one US pilot who came home safe referred to the ALE-50 as “my little buddy” in a letter to Raytheon.
So, what do you with a “little buddy,” and how does it work?
The entire ALE-50 system consists of a launcher and launch controller attached to one of the aircraft’s hardpoints, containing one or more expendable towed decoys. These trail behind the aircraft when deployed, attracting radar-guided missiles to themselves instead. Each decoy and payout reel is delivered in a sealed canister and has a 10-year shelf life. The Multi-Platform Launch Controller (MPLC) is the standard launch controller for all future installations. The USN F/A-18E/F, USAF B-1B, and Raytheon’s AN/ALQ-184(V)9 ECM pod use the MPLC with platform-specific launchers. This flexibility makes the AN/ALE-50 adaptable to any tactical or combat support aircraft.
In both flight tests and actual combat, the ALE-50 has successfully countered numerous live firings of both surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. Deagel.com estimates the ALE-50 expendable decoys’ estimated value at $22,000 each – which is certainly a lot cheaper than a B-1 bomber.
Work on this contract will be performed in Goleta, CA (90%), and Nashua, NH (10%), and is expected to be complete in June 2008. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD issued the contract. According to Raytheon, the Lot 9 production contract in April 2005 has increased the total number of decoys ordered to almost 22,500, with deliveries scheduled through 2007.