Air Weapons: The Deceptive Little Friend


March 30, 2006: After a decade of development effort, and some combat experience, the U.S. Navy and Air Force are confident that their ALE-50 decoy system is worth keeping around. The system looks like a small bomb, and is attached to a hard point on a fighter or bomber. But the ALE-50 is a container that contains a small glider that is ejected out of the rear of the container, and remains connected via a thin cable. The pilot can control the ALE-50 aircraft, which trails behind the aircraft, looking , to approaching missiles, like it is the aircraft. The "little friend" (as pilots like to call the ALE-50), then attracts any missiles fired at the aircraft. Some 22,500 ALE-50s are being ordered, at a cost of about $23,000 each, for use on F-16s, F-18s and B-1Bs. The ALE-50 is basically a sealed container, with a ten year shelf life. The system uses an interface that can work with any of the three aircraft types it is designed to support.


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