Now that the U.S. Air Force has a new powered decoy that works (after six
years of wasted effort on bad designs), they are adding radar jamming
capability. The new MALD (miniature air-launched decoy) is about ten 9.5 feet
long, and its pop-out wings give it a
five foot wingspan. The 285 pound MALD is powered by a small turbojet engine
that gives it a speed of up to 1000
kilometers an hour, for 45 minutes at 35,000 feet, or 20 minutes at 3,000 feet.
It can be programmed to fly a specific course to try and get enemy air defenses
to open up, so the enemy weapons can be spotted and destroyed. MALDs are also
designed to be used in swarms to overwhelm enemy air defenses. The new MALDs
cost about $250,000 each.
years ago, the MALD was supposed to be a smaller (eight feet long), simpler and
cheaper ($30,000) design. But, as is common with these project, both the air
force and the manufacturer, kept coming
up with new things the MALD had to have. Some were necessary, others were just
part of the usual procurement politics. The current MALD, which is now ready to
go into production, has a range of about 900 kilometers, and is apparently
reliable enough to be used in combat. The basic MALDs are used to deceive enemy
radar, and look, at least on a radar, like a fighter-bomber. The radar jamming
capability of MALD-J will be the first of many electronic warfare capabilities
added to the higher (up to half a million dollars, or more, each) priced
version of MALD.