Have you ever seen a picture of a fighter plane towing a radar decoy? Here it is

A Typhoon towing a decoy. (Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis)

Towed decoy systems are used to protect military aircraft from radar-guided missiles. These countermeasures are towed behind the host aircraft protecting it against both surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. They provide a radiowave reflecting baid that attracts the RF-guided missiles away from the intended target.

Unlike the miniature air launch decoys (MALD) and decoy jammers (MALD Jammers) being tested by the U.S. Air Force for B-52H bombers and F-16 Fighting Falcons to deceive ground radars and anti-aircraft systems, such decoys have a defensive purpose.

Many aircraft are equipped with such towed decoys. The U.S. F-18s and B-1s are equipped with the ALE-50 system, while the Eurofighter Typhoon is equipped with a Towed Radar Decoy carried in the starboad side wingtip pod.

Image credit: Raytheon

 

According to the information released by Eurofighter, the TRD is attached to the pod using a Fibre Optic link used to send commands to the decoy radio frequency emitter to produce jamming signals required to lure the missile away from the “parent aircraft”.

Even if the Eurofighter website contains several diagrams showing the Typhoon’s towed decoy, no image can be found of the decoy being towed by a plane, except the following ones taken by Gian Luca Onnis (during an unclassified test – image released).

Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis (image released for use)
About David Cenciotti 4418 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

6 Comments

  1. If you Google Earth Beale Air Force Base, you will see a group of 4 U 2’s and in front of them is some type of jet engine drone with wingspan of about 112 ft. Looks like there is a top mounted engine. There is another one near another U2 near a hanger to the East. Anyone know what the heck this is? I can’t find anything on the net about it.

  2. At EADS Cassidian we already made successfull flight trials with Towed Radar Decoy on Tornado fighter. It had been tested under all flight conditions

Comments are closed.