After an extensive testing and live trials campaign, the US Air National Guard (USANG) has issued a ‘fielding recommendation’ for Leonardo’s BriteCloud 218 expendable active decoy system.
This new capability has been undergoing testing on a US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft since 2019. The service is now confident that the decoy meets and, in some instances, exceeds operational requirements, delivering an increased platform protection capability to fourth-generation fighter aircraft like the F-16.
The US Air Force has subsequently designated BriteCloud 218 as AN/ALQ-260(V)1, identifying it as an airborne electronic warfare countermeasure.
BriteCloud packs the latest-generation DRFM jamming technology into a compact expendable that can be launched from standard countermeasure dispensers. Unlike most traditional chaff and flares, BriteCloud employs a sophisticated on-board electronic warfare capability designed to counter radar-guided threats.
Designed and manufactured by Leonardo in the UK, BriteCloud has already entered service with the UK’s Royal Air Force. As a world-first technology, BriteCloud has been undergoing evaluation for potential service with US Armed Forces under the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program. The fielding recommendation by the USANG is one of the final stages of the program and gives the green light to BriteCloud 218 as proven effective and fit for operations.
The BriteCloud 218-variant rounds evaluated under the FCT are standard-sized rectangular countermeasures measuring just 2 x 1 x 8 inches. This means they are compatible with common dispensers including the AN/ALE-47 and are ready to equip other 4th generation fighters such as the F-15, F/A-18, F-16 and A-10 fighters.
BriteCloud 218 is also an effective protection capability for smaller uncrewed platforms, with the German Armed Forces successfully trialing the system with target drone aircraft in 2021.
Leonardo’s original BriteCloud 55 decoy (a slightly larger variant, compatible with round 55mm flare dispensers such as those on the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen C/D), is used by the UK’s Royal Air Force. According to Leonardo, BriteCloud’s unique combination of latest-generation threat protection with extremely low integration costs continues to generate significant interest with international Air Forces.