Images suggest Ukraine has used aircraft-imitating missile to confuse Russian defences

Watch: Why air-launched ADM-160B MALD decoy missile could prove key for Ukraine.

Ukraine appears to have used an air-launched decoy weapon in a bid to confuse Russian air defences.

Images on social media of wreckage in the Russian-held city of Luhansk seemingly also show what appears to be the remains of an ADM-160B MALD (Miniature Air-Launched Decoy).

The job of the miniature air-launched decoy is to go in ahead of a main aerial attack and confuse enemy air defences by pretending to be an aircraft – anything from a small jet fighter to a bomber.

They also aim to activate enemy air defences, forcing them to fire and give away their positions and potentially make them run out of systems.

Real jets can then come in and take them out with precision-guided munitions.

The ADM-160B MALD, which was developed by US defence firm Raytheon, weighs around 140kg and has a range of almost 600 miles.

An image of an ADM-160B MALD decoy missile (Picture: US Dept of Defense).
The ADM-160B MALD was developed by US defence firm Raytheon (Picture: US Department of Defense).

The missile uses a Signature Augmentation Subsystem – radar amplifiers produce a range of frequencies to mimic the signature of any airplane.

There is also an electronic warfare version of the MALD which is used to jam enemy radar. 

The arrival of Storm Shadow and MALD missiles has given Kyiv a huge boost in air power in a conflict that has primarily been a battle of big guns and land warfare.

GFX showing the range of the ADM-160B MALD.
The missile weighs around 140kg and has a range of almost 600 miles.

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