Digital Battlespace

Leonardo set for BriteCloud 55-T tests despite COVID complications

22nd May 2020 - 09:00 GMT | by Tim Martin in London


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Leonardo’s US electronics division plans to test the latest variant of its BriteCloud expendable active decoy (EAD), which is designed to be equipped on large fixed-wing military aircraft.

Designated BriteCloud 55-T, the defensive aid solution protects against RF-guided missile threats and will probably undergo test flights on board a C-130 Hercules to begin with, although the manufacturer is still undecided about which location it will select for the tests.

‘The 55-T is still in development, like many things COVID-19 has slowed it down, but we’re hopeful of some flight trials in the latter half of this year,’ Daniel Jurta, Director, BD, Electronic Warfare at Leonardo said during a 21 May virtual SOFIC (vSOFIC) media briefing.

Initially unveiled in June 2018, the 55-T was released specifically to address a need for a more powerful decoy to be available for larger fixed wing aircraft which are known to be vulnerable to threats due to their production of excessive radar return signals.

To mask this radar return, the T-55 creates a powerful ‘ghost’ radar signal, to effectively trick radar-guided threats away from detection of the aircraft in question, according to Leonardo.  

‘If we can collect data [first] on a C-130 [in testing] we can show relative effectiveness for a variety of other platforms,’ Jurta explained. ‘Location is still a matter of discussion…and it will drive which threats [are introduced].’

Leonardo previously enjoyed success with its BriteCloud product line in the US, where its 218 model - fitted into a 2x8x1in form factor was selected in May 2019 to be part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) programme involving US Air National Guard F-16 fighter jets.

Leonardo was also awarded a UK MoD contract for BriteCloud 55 to support airborne trials on RAF Eurofighter Typhoons.

A first trial from this partnership saw 33 BriteCloud rounds dispensed from aircraft flown by the RAF’s 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron against a range of threats in April 2019. 

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