January 17, 2024

Leonardo Upgrades BriteCloud Decoy with New Smart Features

Still the world’s only proven expendable active decoy, BriteCloud can now communicate with its aircraft’s onboard self-protection system and smart countermeasure dispenser to maximize performance.

Leonardo has announced that its BriteCloud 55-T variant electronic warfare decoy has been upgraded to meet the latest NATO self-protection standard STANAG-4871, meaning that the decoy now has a range of additional features, including compatibility with new ‘smart dispenser’ systems.

New features include BriteCloud being able to swap data with its aircraft’s onboard self-protection system, maximizing the performance of the expendable in highly contested airspace. Meanwhile, its ability to interface with smart dispenser systems (a capability called the Smart Stores Communication Interface or SSCI) allows BriteCloud to be carried as part of a mixed load of expendables and also enables the automatic logging of payload logistics information such as air carriage life.

The initiative is part of Leonardo’s wider approach to a more connected battlespace, integrating sensors and products from across domains and making better use of data. Engineers from Leonardo formed part of the NATO group that defined the new SSCI, drawing on the company’s industry-leading expertise in secure cloud technologies, data, and analytics to support the development of STANAG-4871.

The BriteCloud decoy packs the latest-generation Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) jamming technology into a compact expendable that fits standard countermeasure dispensers. Upon launch, its onboard computer receives incoming threat signals and responds with a convincing ‘ghost’ signal tailored to the specific threat, drawing it away from its intended target. BriteCloud remains unique in the combat air countermeasure market as the only product of its type to have undergone successful live trials.

BriteCloud 55-T has the same form factor as a standard 55 mm flare cartridge and can be launched from a range of common dispensing systems. While the original BriteCloud 55 was designed specifically for fast jets, the 55-T has been built with larger aircraft such as the C-27J and A400M in mind and so features the additional power required to mask the larger radar cross sections of those types of aircraft.

Beyond the 55-T, Leonardo is also investing in bringing the additional capability to its smaller BriteCloud 218 variant, a two-by-one by eight-inch expendable compatible with common dispensers, including the AN/ALE-47, which equips platforms such as the F-15 and F-16. The company is also discussing test and evaluation plans with stores dispenser manufacturers to take place in 2024. Leonardo continues to invest in a roadmap of future BriteCloud upgrades to future-proof the capability and keep it operationally relevant.

BriteCloud 55 is currently in service with the UK’s Royal Air Force on board the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, and following an extensive testing and live trials campaign with BriteCloud since 2019, the U.S. Air National Guard (ANG) issued a ‘fielding recommendation’ for the BriteCloud 218 variant in 2022. It is designated AN/ALQ-260(V)1 in the U.S. Armed Forces service.