Expendable Wave: Raytheon’s MALD & MALD-J Decoys
Dec 9/14: data link. Almost 6 years after a January 2009 award to study the feasibility of adding a data link to MALD-J, Raytheon announces that it has conducted successful tests of that capability with the US Marines in Yuma, AZ. The benefit is to allow in-flight targeting adjustments.
Oct 15/14: Lot 9-11. The Air Force intends to award multiple sole source contracts for a total of $471M to Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) for MALD-J lots 9-11; parts obsolescence management, sustainment, aircraft integration, non-warranty repair, technical support, and development of any future variants based on the MALD design.
June 30/14: USAF procurement. The Air Force releases a justification & approval document dated Oct. 31/12 that explains how lots 7 to 10 plan to procure 200 units each year from 2014 to 2017, on a Firm Fixed Price basis. Lots 7 and beyond should be contracted under a 10-year warranty, like lots 5 and 6, vs. 15 years for the first 4 lots. Source: FBO [PDF].
June 27/14: Lot 7. RMS is awarded a $80.8 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Lot 7 Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer (MALD-J) missile that includes data, mission planning, process verification program, and operational flight software. Work will be performed at Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2016. Fiscal 2012, 2013 and 2014 procurement and operations and maintenance funds are being obligated in the amount of $79,112,476 at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBJM, Eglin Air Force Base, FL, is the contracting activity (FA8682-14-C-0004).
May 2014: state of program. Raytheon says it has delivered a total of 1,000 MALD-Js, and all 33 flights performed during the past 2 years were successful.
January 2014: DOTE. The Pentagon’s Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, released its FY2013 report, with a section on problem discovery affecting OT&E. On MALD-J:
“All MALD-J vehicles launched during developmental testing performed within the navigational accuracy requirements. During IOT&E at an open-air flight test range (a more challenging operationally representative environment), several MALD-J vehicles experienced unexpected navigational accuracy issues. There were several different causes of the navigational errors, all classified, but all arose from technical performance issues that should have been uncovered during developmental testing.”
There is also a dedicated brief [PDF] on the program that details test activity so far.
The Bosnian “Nighthawk Down” incident in 1999 showed that even old air defense systems could still be dangerous, and that smart tactics and selective use could keep those systems alive against heavy opposition. The challenge is finding them and targeting them. Against truly advanced air defense systems like the Russian SA-20 family, however, the challenge is survival. Advanced stealth technologies, advanced anti-radar weapons, and successful electronic jamming are required.
Air-launched decoys can help, and they are not a new concept by any means. The same technologies used in cruise missiles allow construction of “stealth in reverse” decoys that fly long distances along pre-planned flight patterns, carrying radar reflectors that simulate the radar return of fighter or bomber aircraft. Enemy air defenses see them as incoming aircraft, and must decide to either shut down and hide, or activate and reveal their position. If American aircraft are flying behind a wave a decoys, either option can be dangerous. The USAF’s ADM-160B/C Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD) program began as a DARPA effort in 1996, but made it all the way into production, and is branching out into new fields. The US Navy already has their own ITALD, but they liked one of the new MALD variants enough to add it, too.
MALD and Its Variants
Contracts and Key Events
FY 2014 – 2015
FY 2011 – 2013
FY 2006 – 2010
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