May 28 (UPI) -- Britain's Royal Air Force has been testing a miniature missile decoy device on its Typhoon fighter jets, Defense Minister Stuart Andrew announced.
The BriteCloud, which is roughly the size of a soda can, is designed to protect combat jets from the latest radar-guided missiles. They utilize powerful radar emissions to disrupt the targeting system within air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, drawing them to a safe distance from the targets
Upon completion of successful trials, the devices will be available for frontline aircrews by the end of this year, according to a British government news release.
"Britecloud offers the RAF a powerful and cost-effective way to keep our pilots safer than ever on the frontline," Andrew said at the Typhoon Ministerial Meeting in Germany on Thursday. "These trials show UK industry is once again at the heart of defense innovation, providing our Armed Forces with state-of-the-art capabilities and creating high-tech jobs across the country."
The testing began in April aboard Typhoon aircraft. In Britain, 33 BriteCloud 55 rounds were dispensed from aircraft flown by the RAF's 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron against a variety of threats like those those faced on the battlefield.
"The initial flight-trial of Bright-cloud from RAF Typhoon aircraft was a key milestone in moving closer towards a viable and extremely valuable capability for the warfighter," said Pete Ward, a wing commander on the Typhoon. "Trials will now move to operational testing and validation before the initial operating capability is declared."
Further trials include ensuring the decoy launches safely from the aircraft.
The RAF also wants to develop uses on the battlefield for the device, including on military helicopters and C-130 Hercules aircraft. In addition, they hope the decoys could eventually be used on the RAF's F-35s.
The device can be fired from an aircraft flare dispenser without modification to the aircraft, according to its manufacturer, Leonardo. The Defense Ministry has worked with the company on the devices, which are designed and made in Luton, England, since 2012 at a cost of $34 million.
"Our ongoing partnership with Leonardo continues to drive vital research and development that leads to the kind of innovation demanded by our RAF today," said Simon Bollom, CEO of the MOD's Defense Equipment and Support organization. "The trials of BriteCloud on Typhoon demonstrates how we are constantly striving to find a technological edge and protect our service personnel.
The fourth generation, twin-engine Eurofighter Typhoon, manufactured by a consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo, became operational in 2003.
"Although the Typhoon has flown precision attack missions in all its combat deployments to date, its most essential role remains the provision of quick-reaction alert for UK and Falklands Islands airspace," the RAF said on its website. "Detachments have also reinforced NATO air space in the Baltic and Black Sea regions."
The planes are based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and RAF Coningsby in England.