The Royal Air Force (RAF) has recently ordered a batch of Leonardo BriteCloud electronic countermeasure (ECM) decoys for operational evaluation purposes. In a $3.2 million U.S. order, a large number of decoys will be delivered to the RAF for use on its Tornado GR4s, during which the RAF will devise the concept-of-operations – i.e. the instruction documents – for the BriteCloud (Leonardo).
The BriteCloud is an ECM decoy developed by Leonardo’s Selex ES division in collaboration with the U.K Defence Science & Technology Laboratory and British Ministry of Defence.
It is a unique system in that while it is expendable, the BriteCloud is a self-contained digital radio frequency memory (DRFM)-based pod meant for countering radar-guided air-to-air missiles (AAM) and surface-to-air missiles (SAM). The BriteCloud was designed to be deployed from a standard chaff and flare system, the integration to which requires minimal integration work. The BriteCloud has a shelf-life of five years.
The operational rationale of the BriteCloud is that once it is deployed, it can lure the incoming AAM or SAM away from the target, thereby reducing the risk of impact. According to IHS Jane’s, the BriteCloud can function for at least 10 seconds once launched. Leonardo is marketing the BriteCloud as a low-cost solution for the wider market.
The RAF had begun trialing the BriteCloud from a Tornado GR4 in March. This recent acquisition bodes well for the BriteCloud in that once the CONOPS phase is complete, the RAF may expand its BriteCLoud procurement plans, not just in regards to the Tornado, but potentially the Typhoon as well.