Italian defence contractor Leonardo recently conducted a successful demonstration in partnership with the British Royal Air Force (RAF) of an autonomous swarm of unmanned aircraft, each carrying a variant of its BriteCloud expendable active decoy as an electronic warfare payload.
In the demonstration, various remotely piloted small aircraft outfitted with electronic warfare jamming technology confounded trial radars simulating enemy air defence systems. This comes after the British Ministry of Defence recognised the concept for swarming drones as a potential game-changer.
Leonardo and the British Royal Air Force worked with local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) Callen Lenz and Blue Bear for the development of this technology. For the trial, Callen Lenz drones were equipped with a modified Leonardo BriteCloud decoy to create a jamming effect.
The decoy packages were particularly programmed to confuse ground-based radar systems representing the enemy air defence emplacement. In a statement, Leonardo said: “A powerful demonstration was given, with the swarm of BriteCloud-equipped drones overwhelming the threat radar systems with electronic noise.
“The information gained from the demonstration will be used to inform potential future UK programmes to acquire an autonomous swarming drone capability.”
BriteCloud was originally developed as a self-contained digital radio frequency memory jammer for combat jets. It went into service with the RAF in 2018. The technology is currently being assessed by the US Armed Forces and is also available for other British allies.
However, for unknown reasons, Leonardo deleted its press release from its website, though an archived copy of the page remains available. The company also deleted an official Tweet with an infographic, a copy of which is seen above.
As per theDrive, Leonardo did not offer any details about the unmanned aircraft used in the demonstration. Artist’s conceptions of a drone swarm strike that the company released along with the announcement, seen at the top of this story and in the infographic above, showed a tailless fixed-wing design with a single, rear-mounted pusher propeller and fixed undercarriage. However, there is no indication one way or another if this in any way reflects the Callen-Lenz design employed in the recent test.