EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., June 13 (UPI) -- Development of an unmanned U.S. decoy that fools enemy air defenses into revealing their positions took a step forward in a test over the Gulf of Mexico.
The Miniature Air Launched Decoy, or MALD, underwent its first powered flight test recently after being launched from an Air Force F-16 flying out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Raytheon said in a statement Wednesday that the cruise-type missile flew its preprogrammed route, executed a series of maneuvers and then operated its radar-jamming payload without receiving any instructions from the F-16.
Testing will continue this year with the program transitioning to the production phase in 2008, Raytheon said.
The MALD is turbojet-powered missile that imitates the radar signature of a manned warplane. Its intent is to fool air-defense systems into switching on their targeting radar and revealing their position.
Once a target is acquired, warplanes can launch missiles or bombs and eliminate the threat. MALD can also be fitted with an electronic warfare payload that jams the radar, a task currently performed by manned planes.
The system is designed in large part for the opening night of a U.S. "shock and awe" air offensive. The missile can be launched from the F-16 or from a B-52 bomber.