Utilizing robotics and composite technology pioneered in racecars, Raytheon announced July 21 it has developed a new carbon airframe for the Air Force’s Miniature Air Launched Decoy program. The new composite design, which will be included in the Lot 7 production of the MALD program, is expected to reduce the cost of airframe production by 25 percent, according to a July 21 release. The MALD is a cost-efficient, modular system that can be used to protect manned aircraft and make standoff weapons even more lethal, said Scott Muse, Raytheon’s MALD programs director. Raytheon’s missile systems directorate partnered with European firms Fokker and Dallara to improve a design for the program, with Fokker adapting robots “to wind the carbon fiber fuselage, rather than rely on the conventional, hand-built approach,” states the release. Dallara, a firm that has produced high-speed lightweight Indy cars for four decades, used the structural technologies used to produce their racing vehicles to construct airframe accessories, such as covers and inlets. MALD helps USAF duplicate friendly aircraft profiles and radar signatures. Raytheon began delivering a jammer variant in 2012.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivered remarks June 1 at the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation ceremony—his first visit to USAFA as president. The full text and video of his speech is available here.