BriteCloud Decoy’s Favorable Prospects Dimmed for Now by COVID-19

BriteCloud Expendable Active Decoy (EAD). Image – Leonardo

Until recent events, several years of steady production of the BriteCloud expendable active decoy (EAD) missile countermeasures system seemed assured.   Prime contractor Leonardo of Italy has been actively promoting the system, which is already in service with the U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) aboard Tornado GR4 aircraft.  It has also been supplying evaluation units.  But with Italy among the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is facing unforeseen challenges and likely a temporary strain on its output capacity.

BriteCloud consists of a self-contained digital RF memory (DRFM) jammer designed to disrupt incoming missiles’ RF tracking systems.  The system is capable of defeating the majority of modern and legacy surface-to-air and air-to-air threats.

Only last year, new opportunities appeared to be on the horizon.  In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense evaluated BriteCloud under the U.S. Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program. The Air National Guard led this FCT by evaluating BriteCloud launched from countermeasure dispensers installed on U.S. Air Force ANG aircraft.

In the same month, Leonardo was contracted by the U.K. Ministry of Defence to support a series of trials in which the BriteCloud 55 variant would be evaluated for operations with the RAF’s fleet of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.

At present, the Saab Gripen fighter – for which BriteCloud is offered as an option – provides the best production prospect for the system.  Sales opportunities for the Gripen and, by extension, BriteCloud may be found in the fighter requirements of Austria, Botswana, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Finland, India, the Philippines, and Switzerland, among other countries.

The development of specialized variants in recent years, meanwhile, has opened new prospects for the system.  In July 2018, Leonardo partnered with Terma to offer a variant of the BriteCloud-compatible Electronic Combat Integrated Pylons System (ECIPS) with an integrated Leonardo Compact Jamming System (CJS).