MALD Gets Production Nod

Raytheon’s miniature air launched decoy has been approved for low-rate initial production for the Air Force, Michael Spencer, the company’s senior manager for MALD business development, said yesterday. Raytheon expects to build 150 of the radar-spoofing weapons in the first production lot. USAF wants to have assets ready to use by the end of 2009, but long-term production estimates are not yet known and are conditional on five-year budget plans being drawn up by the Air Force this summer. The MALD weighs less than 300 pounds, and while it has been tested on the F-16 and B-52, it can be used by virtually any Air Force aircraft, as well as aircraft “slated to be” in the inventory, Spencer said. The weapon has been successful in 40 of 42 recent tests. Spencer noted that the MALD is designed to be used as part of an overall electronic warfare “systems of systems” package and is not intended as stand-alone protection against integrated air defense systems. For now, only the Air Force is signed on as a customer, but Raytheon has drawn interest from allied countries who want to buy the “vehicle only” version. This variant has no electronic warfare payload, and allies would install their own system on the modular weapon, Spencer said. Raytheon is funding inclusion of a MALD captive-carry element in upcoming wargames at China Lake, Calif. The Air Force is considering variants that would include a wireless datalink and a jamming version called MALD-J. USAF expects to begin full-rate production of the basic system in 2010.