MALD Nears Production:

Raytheon’s miniature air launched decoy completed a highly successful eight-month phase of flight testing last month, and the company anticipates moving into low-rate initial production for the Air Force this spring, a senior company official told the Daily Report on Feb. 21. “The program has been extremely successful,” Mike Spencer, senior manager for business development for MALD, said during an interview at the AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. The MALD performed well in 33 of 35 flights, which included jettison tests, and unpowered and powered runs, Spencer said. The Air Force’s notional schedule calls for having enough MALDs on hand by the end of 2009 so that the system can be declared ready for use on the F-16 and B-52 thereafter. “To meet that, we need to see LRIP in the spring,’ he said. The success of the decoy is laying the foundation for the company’s work on a jammer variant for USAF, called the MALD-J. Spencer said he couldn’t discuss the details of that project, but he did say that the jammer variant would not lose the inherent decoy capabilities of the baseline system. Raytheon is also maturing a datalink capability for MALD, using its own internal investment, that would allow for in-flight reprogramming of the system. Around the end of July, the company will conduct captive-carriage tests of a modified MALD with the datalink, which is dubbed the MALD-W, during the Navy’s Empire Challenge 2008 exercise at China Lake in California, Spencer said. He emphasized that MALD is not meant to be a standalone asset, but rather a component of the US military’s future airborne electronic attack architecture.