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Sector supports miniature aircraft flight testing

The Miniature Air Launched Decoy team successfully accomplished the program?s first powered flight test mission on Apr. 30, 200.

An F-16 equipped with the Miniature Air Launched Decoy system flies during an April test. Members from the Northeast Air Defense Sector provided support for recent MALD testing in December. (U.S. Air Force photo)

ROME, N.Y. -- The Northeast Air Defense Sector provided support during a Miniature Air Launched Decoy, or MALD, test Dec. 14. 

Members from NEADS began working with the 692nd Armament Systems Squadron based at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in April 2007, said Lt. Col. M. Elise Hereth, operations control chief.

"This testing gives NEADS further insight and ability to participate in an interesting Air Force mission and developing capability," Colonel Hereth said. "The MALD program representatives have been completely professional and a pleasure to work with. Our operations personnel are looking forward to continuing to facilitate their testing and support their personnel during future tests."

According to testers at the 692nd ARSS, the MALD is a low-cost, expendable, jet-engine powered miniature air vehicle designed to represent the kinematics and radar signature characteristics of various combat aircraft. MALD will be used to stimulate, saturate and deceive threat integrated air defense systems, thus increasing the survivability of coalition aircraft.

"The objective of this testing is to determine whether the MALD vehicle appears as a credible target to an Integrated Air Defense System (IADS) and does the vehicle stimulate the IADS to cause confusion and react as to whether it is a credible target," said Phil Kean, MALD test engineer with the 46th Test Squadron based at Eglin.

"NEADS affords us an opportunity to test MALD utilizing real-world radar operators with an integrated air defense system," said Kenneth Watson, squadron director and program manager at the 692nd ARSS. "Reactions of radar operators and NEADS' responses provide key inputs useful in answering the MALD credibility question of whether MALD is a credible target to an IADS as well as long range performance."

Testing over Eglin's Gulf range allows for evaluation of MALD with radars at long ranges, Mr. Watson said. Eglin's Gulf range complex is the only test area in the United States that is equipped with the right testing capabilities. NEADS has the capability needed to support MALD performance tests, with its primary long-range radar capability.

"NEADS support has been outstanding at all levels to date," Mr. Watson said.
"Not only has the staff been extremely responsive to our test needs, we have obtained valuable test results that will ultimately enable the program office to answer key test questions for the warfighter. We look forward to mutual success and continued excellence at all working levels for remaining MALD flights."

MALD is currently undergoing integration on both the F-16 Fighting Falcon and B-52 Stratofortress aircraft. Future plans will allow for carriage on a wide variety of tactical and strategic aircraft, including the F-15, F-22, B-1 and B-2. The MALD System Design and Development contract was awarded in June 2003 to Raytheon Missile Systems, in Tucson, Ariz. MALD's Low Rate Initial Production decision is scheduled for 2008, according to the 692nd ARSS.