May 24, 2007 (by Asif Shamim) - The Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) Team successfully accomplished its first powered flight during a test mission from Eglin AFB on April 30.
The MALD is low cost expandable decoy designed to mimic the radar signature and flight characteristics of a fighter or bomber, enticing the enemy to fire upon the much smaller and lighter and less expensive decoy rather than the attack aircraft themselves. The decoy is 112 inches long weighing approximately 285 pounds and powered by compact Hamilton-Sundstrand turbojet engine.
The flight test was carried on a F-16 flown by Maj. Houchins, 46th Test Wing Operations Group, and accompanied by instructor pilot Lt.Col. Jimmie Mitchell, 40th Flight Test Squadron. The MALD was successfully launched over the Eglin Test Range at 20,000 feet and reached a speed of 0.9 Mach while excuting series of pre-planned flight maneuvers. During the flight the MALDs Global Positioning System guidance and navigation systems were active.
Proceeding the first turbojet flight, two successful glide tests were carried out. Further testing will be carried out as of June 2007 with further launches from the B-52.
"This team works amazingly well together," said Ken Watson, 692nd Squadron Director. "They thrive on challenges and know how to get the tough jobs done right. I owe our success to the hard work and dedication of my squadron here , to Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson and to the 46th Test Wing."
Currently integration work is being done on the F-15 and B-52 bomber. Future plans will allow the carriage on a wide variety of tactical and strategic aircraft, including the F-22. The MALD System Design and Development contract was awarded in June 03 to Raytheon Missile Systems.