The U.S. Air Force on April 27 announced that it has successfully completed a flight test of the MALD (Miniature Air-Launched Decoy) with a composite fuselage produced by Cobham Composite Products (San Diego, Calif.) integrated into the airframe. This test successfully met all JFTV-3 flight test objectives conducted at Eglin AFB, Fla., and qualifies the Cobham fuselage for production. Cobham developed the innovative, low-cost manufacturing process for MALD that is being transitioned to its new facility in Suffolk, Va., USA.
MALD is a state-of-the-art, low-cost flight vehicle that is modular, air-launched and programmable. It weighs less than 300 lb/136 kg and has a range of approximately 500 nautical miles (about 575 statute miles). Currently integrated on the B-52 bomber and F-16 fighter aircraft, MALD can be certified on any aircraft with a 14-inch suspension carriage. Raytheon Missile Systems (Tucson, Ariz., USA) is the prime contractor for the MALD program. Cobham Composite Products is responsible for the composite fuselage under contract to Raytheon.
"The composite fuselage for the MALD program will be transitioned to our new facility in Suffolk, Va., later this year, and will be established to support future affordability and delivery requirements for the program," said Jeremy Wensinger, president of Cobham Defense Systems Division. "This successful testing milestone represents an important step in realizing our growth plans. We have worked closely with the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Suffolk to bring this new advanced composite manufacturing facility on-line."