The U.S. Air Force and BAE Systems have completed design, development, and testing of a conceptual deployment and retrieval mechanism for BAE Systems' AN/ALE-55 fiber-optic towed decoy for use on the U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft.
The testing was performed at the Naval Research Laboratory at facilities in Newport News, Va., under an Air Force prototype risk reduction program. Tests involved multiple decoy deployments and retrievals from a Lear Jet at a variety of flight profiles. "The testing was fully successful," said Brandon Greene, BAE Systems program manager for the retrievable decoy at Nashua, N.H. "The decoy maintained both electrical and fiber-optic continuity throughout the flight test, demonstrating a capability far beyond that originally specified in the program."
The decoy's reel-out/reel-in mechanism replaces a dual-canister launcher, and provides the F-15 fighter with another option for deploying fiber-optic towed decoys. Use of a retrievable decoy will reduce life-cycle costs by allowing multiple uses of one decoy.
Additional ALE-55 flight tests on the F-15 are also evaluating a new fast-deploy mechanism. "The risk-reduction flight tests on the F-15 using our fast-deploy mechanism are going exceptionally well," Green said. "We've been very successful in demonstrating deployment and tow capabilities throughout the F-15's flight envelope, including combat representative maneuvers with and without afterburner." These tests are scheduled to continue through the summer.
The ALE-55 decoy is manufactured by BAE Systems in Nashua, N.H. The system consists of a high-power decoy and deployment canister. It provides a highly effective electronic warfare defense for U.S. military aircraft against current and future RF missile threats. The ALE-55 is slated for deployment on U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F and U.S. Air Force F-15 and C-130 aircraft.