BAE Systems to build electronic warfare (EW) towed decoy to protect Navy combat jets from enemy missiles

Sept. 15, 2023
Dual-band radar is particularly difficult to jam, and poses a serious threat to U.S. aircraft that must operate in contested airspace.

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. Navy electronic warfare (EW) experts needed a dual-band towed decoy to help U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F jet fighter-bomber pilots avoid modern sophisticated enemy radar-guided anti-aircraft missiles. They found their solutions from BAE Systems.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a $54.1 million contract this week to the BAE Systems Electronic Systems segment in Nashua, N.H., to design and build the Dual Band Decoy (DBD) countermeasure to provide off-board countermeasures protection for the F/A-18E/F.

The DBD towed decoy project, launched in 2018, is to meet an urgent Navy need to protect crews of area-penetrating attack jets like the F/A-18E/F from enemy radar-guided missiles that operate on two separate frequencies, such as X-band and S-band.

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Dual-band radar is particularly difficult to jam, and poses a serious threat to U.S. aircraft that must operate in contested airspace. The DBD towed body trails behind the aircraft on a tether to draw the attention of enemy missiles and protect the aircraft from being hit.

The DBD program is to replace the ALE-55 round assembly (T-1622/ALE-55(V)) and ALE-50 advanced airborne expendable decoy (AAED) (RT-1646E/ALE) deployed today onboard the F/A-18E/F to protect the aircraft from radar-guided missiles.

Navy experts expect the DBD to meet or exceed all ALE-55 performance requirements, plus expanded RF requirements. BAE Systems engineers will design the system be compatible with all existing aircraft electrical interfaces on ALE-55 electronic frequency converter (EFC) (CV-4334/ALE-55(V)), ALE-50 integrated multi-platform launch controller (IMPLC) (CD-108B/ALE-50(V)), T-3F launcher (D-71/ALE-50A(V), and magazine (MX-12196/ALE-50A(V)).

Related: BAE Systems demonstrates electronic warfare (EW) towed decoy aircraft protection from radar-guided missiles

Navy officials want the DBD round assembly to be compatible with the T-3F magazine and launcher, and want the DBD round assembly's mass to be as close as possible to the ALE-55 and ALE-50 round decoy assemblies.

BAE Systems also is designing the DBD to be compatible with the CCU-136A/A impulse cartridge for deployment and sever, yet with no additional hardware modifications to integrate the DBD system aboard the F/A-18E/F aircraft.

The Navy is urging BAE systems to capitalize on existing systems or subsystems from other programs to reduce costs, schedule, and design risks. On this contract BAE Systems will do the work in Nashua and Keene, N.H.; Wenatchee, Wash.; Fremont, Calif.; Hopkinton and Wilmington, Mass.; Newark, Del.; and other U.S. locations, and should be finished by December 2026. For more information contact BAE Systems Electronic Systems online at, or Naval Air Systems Command at

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