ADM-160 MALD

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An F-16 carrying two Miniature Air-launched decoys (red) during a 1999 test.
External images
Raytheon ADM-160C (MALD-J)
Raytheon Corp.
Raytheon Corp.

The ADM-160 MALD (Miniature Air-Launched Decoy) is a decoy missile developed by the United States of America.

Overview[edit]

DARPA MALD program[edit]

The Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD) program was begun in 1995 by DARPA as an effort to develop a small, low cost decoy missile for use in the suppression of enemy defences. Teledyne Ryan (acquired by Northrop Grumman in 1999) was granted a development contract for the ADM-160A in 1996, and the first test flight took place in 1999. The evaluation program was finished by 2001.

The US Air Force planned to acquire several thousand of ADM-160A's, but in 2001 this was reduced to at most 150 for a System Development and Demonstration (SDD) program.[1] In January 2002, the USAF cancelled the program because the drone didn't have enough range and endurance to meet the service's requirements or to perform other missions.[2]

The ADM-160A carries a Signature Augmentation Subsystem (SAS) which is composed of various active radar enhancers which cover a range of frequencies. The SAS can therefore simulate any aircraft, from the B-52 Stratofortress to the F-117 Nighthawk.

The missile has folded wings to allow more compact carriage. On launch the wings unfold and a TJ-50 turbojet propels the missile on a pre-determined course which is composed of up to 100 different waypoints. An inertial navigation system with GPS support keeps the MALD on course. Although pre-programmed before the aircraft leaves the ground, the course can be modified by the pilot at any point up to launch.

New USAF competition[edit]

In 2002, the USAF renewed its interest in an air-launched decoy and started a new industry-wide competition for a variant with greater endurance.[2] The contract for a new MALD was awarded to Raytheon in Spring 2003.

The Raytheon ADM-160B is similar in configuration to the ADM-160A, but has a trapezoidal fuselage cross section and is larger and heavier. It is powered by a Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-150, a more powerful variant of the TJ-50.

The first ADM-160B was delivered in Spring 2009.[3] In 2010 an "operationally significant quantity" of the drones were delivered to the Air Force.[4] The USAF currently plans to procure about 1,500.

In 2008 a contract for a jamming variant MALD-J was awarded to Raytheon. It made its first freefall test in 2009 and passed its critical design review in early 2010.[5][6] The first MALD-J was delivered to the Air Force on September 6, 2012. On September 24, Raytheon started operational testing, achieving four successful flights out of four launches.[7]

In November 2012, Raytheon completed ground verification tests for the MALD and MALD-J for integration onto the MQ-9 Reaper UAV. Integration onto the aircraft is expected sometime in 2013, with the goal for an unmanned suppression of enemy air defenses capability.[8]

In June 2013, Raytheon completed a four-year development program of the MALD, under budget. The MALD and MALD-J successfully completed all 30 engineering and operational flight tests, with each version completing 15.[9]

In May 2014, Raytheon delivered the 1,000th MALD-J to the Air Force as part of the Lot 5 production contract. The MALD program has achieved a perfect 33-for-33 flight test success record over the past two years.[10]

US Navy[edit]

The Naval Surface Warfare Center will place an order for the MALD-J.[11]

Systems integration has been announced as of July 6, 2012, by the Raytheon Corp. for the U.S. Navy's F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. The process will include a series of risk reduction activities and technology demonstrations.[12]

British interest[edit]

The British Ministry of Defence expressed interest on the MALD-V platform at the Paris Airshow in 2009.[13]

Variants[edit]

ADM-160A 
Original decoy version developed by Teledyne Ryan (acquired by Northrop Grumman) and funded by DARPA. It uses GPS-aided navigation system, and can fly missions with up to 256 predefined waypoints. The mission profile is preprogrammed, but can be redefined by the pilot of the launching aircraft until immediately before launch.[14]
MALI 
The Miniature Air-Launched Interceptor (MALI) is an armed version of the ADM-160A which could be used against cruise missiles. It has a more powerful engine and a more aerodynamic shape for supersonic flight, and can be updated in mid flight via a command link to aircraft such as the E-3 SentryAWACS. It completed its development program in 2002.[1]
ADM-160B 
Decoy version developed by Raytheon with longer endurance. In use by the USAF.
ADM-160C "MALD-J" 
Radar jammer variant of ADM-160B by Raytheon. This variant of the MALD decoy and will be able to operate in both decoy and jammer modes. The decoy and jammer configurations are key enablers supporting the Air Force Global Strike, Global Response, Space and C4ISR, and the Air and Space Expeditionary Force Concepts of Operations. MALD-J will provide stand-in jamming capability for the Airborne Electronic Attack Systems of Systems. It will be launched against a preplanned target and jam specific radars in a stand-in role to degrade or deny the IADS detection of friendly aircraft or munitions.[15] Delivery to the US Armed Forces is to begin in 2012.[12]
MALD-V 
Modular payload version that provides space for mission specific payloads, of surveillance gear, radio/radar/infrared jammers or other equipment. This may provide the go-forward architecture, and give the option of turning MALD into a UAV, or even a combination killer-UAV/decoy.[16]

Specifications (Northrop Grumman ADM-160A)[edit]

  • Length : 2.38 m (7 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan : 0.65 m (2 ft 2 in)
  • Diameter : 15 cm (6 in)
  • Weight : 45 kg (100 lb)
  • Speed : Mach 0.8
  • Ceiling : Over 9,000 m (30,000 ft)
  • Range : Over 460 km (285 mi)
  • Endurance : Over 20 min
  • Propulsion : Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-50 turbojet; 220 N (50 lbf) thrust
  • Unit cost : US$30,000[5]

Specifications (Raytheon ADM-160B)[edit]

  • Length : 2.84 m (9 ft 7 in)
  • Wingspan : 1.71 m (5 ft 7 in) fully extended
  • Weight : 115 kg (250 lb)
  • Speed : Mach 0.91
  • Ceiling : Over 12,200 m (40,000 ft)
  • Range : Approximately 920 km (575 mi) with ability to loiter over target
  • Endurance : Over 45 min at altitude
  • Propulsion : Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-150 turbojet
  • Unit cost : US$120,000[5]

References[edit]

This article contains material that originally came from the web article Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Greg Goebel, which exists in the Public Domain.

See also[edit]