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DSEI 2021: Leonardo's BriteCloud decoy ready to break America

7th September 2021 - 12:39 GMT | by Tim Martin in London

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A mock up of Leonardo's BriteCloud expendable active decoy being dispensed from a fighter jet (Photo: Leonardo)

Leonardo expects the BriteCloud Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) programme to open doors for US sales of the countermeasure.

Leonardo has revealed that BriteCloud expendable active decoy Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT), led by the US Office of the Secretary of Defense, should soon see the countermeasure transition to a programme of record.

The FCT line of effort dates back to May 2019 when a BriteCloud 218 fitted into a 2x8x1in form factor was selected to undergo testing with US Air National Guard F-16 fighter jets.

Representatives from Leonardo’s Luton facility have already supported BriteCloud training for the national guard, covering areas like programming and launch trajectory, according to Mark Hamilton, managing director, Electronics, at Leonardo UK.

He said that Leonardo and the US Office of the Secretary of Defense are currently in the middle of working out ejection velocity considerations ahead of conducting F-16 live fire tests, while also continuing talks with General Atomics about the possibility of BriteCloud being offered on the UAV manufacturer’s product line.

Though discussions are at an early stage, a number of BriteCloud carriage trials, sponsored by USSOCOM, have already been agreed.

‘Ultimately if the Foreign Comparative Tests are successful, at that point it will become a programme of record and can be ordered by any agency… and I assume at some point someone in the US will speak to us and bring all of this [FCT and BriteCloud for General Atomics] together and that sort of collective momentum will pay off,’ added Hamilton.

‘We’re quite confident that there isn't anything in the US like BriteCloud at the moment, unless of course it is cloaked in secrecy.’

BriteCloud can be launched by a pilot from a standard flare and chaff cartridge to counter radar-guided missile attacks by generating electronic emissions that make a false or ghost target, with the capability considered ‘dramatically more effective’ than chaff countermeasures, according to Leonardo.

Once dispensed the decoy drops away from an aircraft under gravity to create a significant miss distance between the platform and enemy weapon system.

The newest version of BriteCloud, designated 55-T and designed for large fixed wing aircraft, was scheduled to undergo US based flight test with a C-130 Hercules in the second half of 2020 but a Leonardo spokesperson confirmed that the tests have not yet taken place.   

No reason for the tests not going ahead was provided by Leonardo.

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