The U.S. Naval Research Lab and Raytheon [RTN] demonstrated successful captive flights of a modular, rapid replacement architecture for electronic warfare (EW) payloads on the Miniature Air Launched Decoy-Jammer (MALD-J), the company said Wednesday.
Designated CERBERUS, the demonstration used four separately developed interchangeable EW payloads in 12 operationally relevant missions, Raytheon said. The payloads are designated to be used on a MALD vehicle.
Tests occurred during the biannual Northern Edge exercise in Alaska, which was held from June 15-26, 2015. Northern Edge is a joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques, and procedures.
The company highlighted these payloads were customized for specific missions and threats and were swapped onto the captive carry vehicle in under a minute.
MALD is a “state-of-the-art, low-cost flight vehicle that is modular, air-launched and programmable,” Raytheon said. It weighs under 300 pounds and has a range of about 500 nautical miles. MALD duplicates the combat flight profiles and signatures of U.S. and allied aircraft to confuse enemy air defenses. MALD-J adds jamming capabilities.
CERBERUS was the result of a four-year collaboration by Raytheon, U.S. Pacific Command, and Naval Air Systems Command (PMA-234). The program developed a payload system architecture integrated with a quick interchange structural connection. Those two features “provide a match for the rapidly evolving electronic attack battle space,” Raytheon said in a statement.
The quick attachment technique uses a “critical technology” borrowed from IndyCar racing technology and altered to meet aerospace form factors and environmental requirements: the half-turn quick lock developed by Dallara, Raytheon said.
“The CERBERUS design is cost-effective and expands MALD capabilities to address new missions and target sets. It’s a sensible approach for mitigating payload obsolescence. The design embodies the CNO’s ‘Payloads over Platforms’ vision,” Jeff Heyer, head of Electronic Warfare Strategic Planning Organization at the Naval Research Laboratory, said in a statement.
During the CERBERUS tests a MALD vehicle was carried under a Sabreliner mid-sized business jet. The payload was controlled from the aircraft cabin to allow for real-time control and data analysis during a flight test and is an effective tool for evaluating payload performance, Raytheon said.
The Navy is evaluating MALD-N development in the near future to conduct stand-in-jamming. MALD-J is currently in full-rate production for the Air Force and Raytheon began delivery in fall 2012.
“The successful Military Utility Assessment during Northern Edge 15 demonstrated the CERBERUS design’s capacity to expand MALD capabilities to address new missions and target sets. There is a high-demand signal from the operational forces to deliver this capability to the warfighter now,” Heyer added.