PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Electronic warfare (EW) experts at the BAE Systems Electronic Systems segment in Nashua, N.H., will build 235 T-1622/ALE-55(V) fiber optic towed decoys (FOTDs) to protect combat jets from missile attacks under terms of a $21.4 million U.S. Navy order announced late last month.
Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking BAE Systems to provide hardware, technical engineering, management, and logistics to build 235 T-1622/ALE-55(V) Fiber Optic Towed for the Navy and foreign military sales (FMS) customers.
The T-1622/ALE-55(V) is designed to protect the Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18E/F Super Hornet carrier-based combat aircraft from radar-guided missiles.
The AN/ALE-55 transmits complex electronic countermeasures signals from a transmitter that trails behind its combat jet to spoof incoming radar-guided anti-aircraft missiles.
The aircraft-towed decoy with onboard electronics works together with the Super Hornet's electronic warfare system to jam radar seekers in air-to-air missiles. The system also can lure incoming missiles away from their actual targets.
The ALE-55 detects a threat radar in its acquisition mode and uses radar jamming to prevent it from locking to a target. The ALE-55's missile defense electronic warfare package analyzes the threat, and the towed decoy emits the jamming signals to confuse the incoming missile's tracking radar. If an incoming missile locks on with radar, the ALE-55 analyzes the signal to determine the best jamming technique to break radar lock.
The ALE-55 system consists of an onboard electronic frequency converter (EFC) and a fiber-optic towed decoy. The EFC converts radio frequency signals sent from the plane’s electronic warfare system into data coded and transmitted via light to the fiber optic towed decoy.
Although the ALE-55 now is for the F/A-18E/F Super hornet, it also can be adapted to a wide variety of combat aircraft with minimal modifications, BAE Systems officials say.
On this contract BAE Systems will do the work in Nashua, N.H.; Chelmsford, England; Hamilton, N.J.; Rochester, N.Y.; Mountain View, Los Osos, Commerce, Fremont, and San Diego, Calif.; Landenberg, Pa.; Toledo, Ohio; and other U.S. locations, and should be finished by March 2022.