Experts at Eglin AFB are helping develop a miniature
air-launched decoy that Air Force officials hope will entice enemy
forces to prematurely disclose their air defense locations, keeping
friendly pilots further out of harms way. Precision strike system
program office experts awarded an $88 million, five-year systems
development and demonstration contract to Raytheon Corporation to
develop the decoy.
The decoy is intended to saturate enemy air-defense systems by
appearing on radar screens as a full-size bomber or fighter,
according to Anna Harbaugh, program manager.
She said the finished decoy will be a small, cruise missile-like
vehicle about 115 inches long, eight inches around, with a 60-inch
wingspan. It will weigh only 200 pounds and will be launched from
both fighters and bombers.
The decoy, powered by a turbojet engine, will reach speeds of
Mach .93 - about 650 mph -- and altitudes approaching 40,000 feet,
Harbaugh said. Air Combat Command officials, who requested the
development, require it to fly for 45 minutes at 35,000 feet or for
20 minutes at 3,000 feet.
The decoys can be used in many ways, according to Mel Duval,
chief engineer. He said one scenario calls for fighters to follow
the decoys into enemy territory.
"When the enemy turns on their surface-to-air defense radars (in
response to the decoys), the real fighters or bombers arrive and
launch homing anti-radiation missiles that will follow the
emissions to the source and obliterate them," he said. In another
scenario, Duval said the decoy could be fired in swarms, completely
overwhelming an enemy’s integrated air-defense system.
"If a (decoy) gets shot down, then it has done its job," Duval
said. "That means the enemy has expended an expensive and deadly
missile against our inexpensive little decoy. We want the (decoys)
to go where we don't want one of our pilots to be."
The decoy is scheduled to begin captive flight-testing in 2005
and free flight-testing in 2006. Initial production should begin in
2007. The contract requires that 1,500 units be delivered by 2011,
Harbaugh said. The unit cost of the decoy is limited to
"It's our goal to come in much lower than that," Harbaugh said.
"I think we can do it." [ANN Thanks Lois Walsh, Air Armament Center