New MALD Variant under Study

The Air Force awarded Raytheon a $12.2 million contract on Monday to refine the concept for a block II version of the miniature air launched decoy jammer over the next 14 months. According to a DOD release, this feasibility study will examine a jammer that has a datalink and increased radiated power for greater jamming effectiveness. Raytheon is already under contract to produce the decoy version of the MALD at low rates for the Air Force. And, it is developing a jammer variant, MALD-J, for the service. Raytheon has also done some work to add a datalink to the MALD for an in-flight-reprogramming capability and conducted some proof-of-concept, captive-carry flights last year. The baseline MALD, a powered maneuverable unarmed missile, is designed to mimic the attributes of friendly aircraft in flight as it maneuvers around the airspace once it is launched from its B-52H or F-16 host. This is meant to fool enemy air defenses into thinking it is an actual aircraft, thereby helping to protect friendly aircraft in harm’s way. MALD is one component of the US military’s future airborne electronic attack architecture. In addition to its inherent decoy functions, the jammer variants could perform stand-in jamming of enemy radars as an added measure of protection of friendly air assets.