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Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD)

The intent of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) program is to develop a small, low cost, expendable air-launched decoy to enhance the survivability of friendly aircraft and to aid in establishing air superiority by diluting and confusing surface-based and airborne enemy air defense systems. The main objective of the ACTD is to produce a < $30,000 Average Unit Flyaway Price (AUFP) decoy system that will create confusion on the battlefield or "Fog-Of-War."

This project is the direct result of DARPA’s Small Engine Advanced Program (SENGAP), which resulted in successful development of an extremely small 50 lb. thrust turbojet engine designated the TJ-50. In a risk reduction phase of the MALD project, the TJ-50 was integrated with a representative airframe inlet and exhaust nozzle to characterize engine performance at simulated altitude conditions. Subsequently, a MALD proof-of-principle effort was conducted and culminated in a free-flight demonstration of a prototype MALD vehicle.

The MALD is being developed in response to a USAF Air Combat Command (ACC) requirement for an aerial radar decoy, established by Mission Need Statement 329-92. DARPA, using the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) as its agent, conducted a full and open competition for an inexpensive miniature air-launched decoy. The competition resulted in a single contract award to Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical (TRA) in November of 1996, and will have a period of performance of approximately 27 months. TRA is teamed with Sunstrand Corporation for the TJ-50 six-inch turbojet engine, Northrop Grumman for the decoy electronics, andGeneral Dynamics Electronics [GDE] Corporation for mission planning software and Lockheed Martin fo F-16 integration.

The intent of the ACTD is to: design, build and test MALD systems, including the signature-enhancement payload package; conduct producibility analysis and planning; and develop concepts of operations and tactics refinement. The MALD will be capable of being carried on, and launched from an F-16 fighter aircraft and require no communication with, or guidance from other aircraft or ground stations once launched. Thirty-two test systems will be delivered to the USAF ACC at the conclusion of the ACTD.

The CONOPS is one of the key developing efforts in the MALD ACTD. Four decoy roles have been recognized as part of MALD's potential Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) CONOPS: (1) Preemptive Destruction, (2) Reactive Suppression, (3) Diversion, and (4) Saturation. These operations focus on the stimulation of enemy IADS with MALD to locate enemy Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) sites for engagement by High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) or to spur the actual expenditure of missiles against MALD. Simulation has shown that friendly aircraft survivability is significantly enhanced by using a decoy. The MALD concept of operations will be further refined during the ACTD.

Transition of the development and acquisition of MALD from DARPA to the Air Force will be facilitated by the ACTD. ACC is the designated user and is responsible for assessing military utility and developing the employment tactics for the MALD system. The Air National Guard, the Operational Test Agency for the ACTD, is providing support necessary to conduct and evaluate flight testing. When the ACTD ends, 32 MALD systems will be turned over to ACC for further testing, tactics development, or possible limited operational use. If ACC determines that MALD offers sufficient operational utility to warrant procurement for the established price at the end of the ACTD, the Air Force may elect to start low rate production with an inventory objective of 1500 units.

Future production of the MALD is directly related to Military Utility, which is dependent on AUFP and MALD performance. The simple design of MALD and the use of commercial off the shelf components (COTS) and processes are the primary enablers of the MALD $30,000 AUFP.

The proposed MALD system could provide the Air Force and Navy an affordable, tactically effective radar decoy that will aid in accomplishing preemptive and reactive lethal Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses. The small size, light weight, and low cost of the MALD vehicle enable the procurement of sufficient numbers of decoys to generate missions with loadouts of tactical significance.

FUSELAGE:
    LENGTH           89.6 IN.
    DIAMETER            6 IN.
WING:
    AREA           .90 SQ.FT.
    ASPECT RATIO           5
    SPAN             25.4 IN. 
HORIZ STABILIZER:
    AREA (PROJ.)   .32 SQ.FT. 
    ASPECT RATIO   3.23 VERT.
VERTICAL FIN:
  AREA             .26 SQ.FT.
  ASPECT RATIO          2.36
POWER PLANT:
  TURBOJET ENGINE
  50 LB S.L.S. THRUST
WEIGHTS:
  EMPTY (NO FUEL)     65 LBS.
  LAUNCH              89 LBS. 

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