U.S. Air Force Clears BriteCloud For F-16 Operational Tests

Credit: Leonardo

SINGAPORE—The U.S. Air Force has cleared Leonardo’s BriteCloud 218 expendable active decoy for operational testing on the F-16, a step the company says shows the countermeasure can be equipped on the aircraft with no modification.

The Air Force’s Seek Eagle Office has approved the countermeasure to be flown on Air National Guard aircraft as part of the Defense Department’s Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program. The program is expected to be completed this year, with possible procurement to follow.

BriteCloud is about the size of a soda can and is dispensed like a flare from an aircraft. The device includes a miniature digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jammer that emits signals to attract incoming missiles, drawing the threat away from the aircraft. Leonardo says the DRFM allows the device to tailor its signal to a specific threat radar.

“BriteCloud is capable of defeating all known current threat systems,” Leonardo says.

The device entered service in the U.K.’s Royal Air Force (RAF) in 2019 on the Panavia Tornado GR4 before the aircraft retired, and the RAF is looking to integrate it on the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet. The U.S. FCT program was also announced in 2019.

The F-16 tests will use the BriteCloud 218 device, which fits the standard 2x1x8 countermeasure dispensers such as the Falcon’s AN/ALE-47. The device can also be carried on transport and special mission aircraft.

Leonardo said in a press release it is in discussion with other F-16 operators internationally but did not specify which nations.

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.