NEWTOWN, Conn. --- The next several years should see steady rates of production of the ALE-55 fiber-optic towed decoy for a variety of U.S. Navy airborne applications. Production and support of the decoy for the Navy's F/A-18E/F application has been well underway as a replacement for the older ALE-50 system.
U.S. procurement funding for the ALE-55 is provided in the Department of Defense's Airborne Expendable Countermeasures program, which purchases countermeasure self-protection devices for all Navy and Marine Corps rotary aircraft, and tactical and other fixed-wing aircraft. Through the DoD's AECM program, $361 million is scheduled to be spent through 2024 on ALE-55 units and other systems for Navy and Marine Corps applications.
International sales of the system through the Foreign Military Sales program will also add to the decoy's demand. In February 2020, prime contractor, BAE Systems was awarded a $21.3 million contract to provide hardware, technical engineering, management and logistics support associated with ALE-55(V) for the Navy and FMS customers. Work is expected to be completed by March 2022.
Meanwhile, an eventual ALE-55 replacement - the Dual Band Decoy (DBD) - is on the horizon. In October 2019, the U.S. Navy awarded contracts to BAE Systems and Raytheon, valued at $36.7 million and $33 million respectively, to help determine the best fit to meet F/A-18E/F decoy requirements through a 27-month development and demonstration phase. The DBD will likely start to replace the ALE-55 FOTD later in the decade.