NRL's "Eager" Decoy Passes First Flight Test

9/2/1997 - 51-97r
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (202) 767-2541

Scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have developed and successfully flight tested the first prototype Eager vehicle (Electric Preferential Acquisition Decoy). The decoy is a recoverable, tethered, electric-powered rotary wing vehicle with an RF repeater payload. Eager represents a breakthrough concept for affordable, effective ship defense.

According to NRL project manager Peggy Davidson, "Eager is designed for littoral warfare, where engagement timelines are extremely short. The decoy is deployed prior to entering a potential engagement area and is on station at all times, ready to respond to the first threat radar pulse. This is a significant improvement over current decoy systems which are not deployed until a threat is detected, allowing tens of thousands of pulses to paint the ship."

Eager will have an operational life of 1000 hours versus minutes for existing electronic decoys of comparable unit cost. Consequently, Eager also can be operationally much more cost effective to own when considered on a cost/hour basis. Ms. Davidson notes that, "Eager provides the ship with an elevated platform capable of carrying a variety of payloads, such as a receive antenna with data link for over-the-horizon detection."

Eager weighs approximately 100 pounds, has a rotor diameter of 10 feet, and a mission payload capacity of 15 pounds. According to Ms. Davidson, "the Eager airframe is a simple, easily fabricated modular unit made with carbon composite material. The RF payload, electric propulsion system, tether, power supplies, avionics, and flight control systems are advanced technology prototypes integrated with off-the-shelf components. The tether contains optical fibers for passing payload and control signals from shipboard processors, and conductors for payload and vehicle prime power. This on-ship power supply allows on-station endurance limited only by system reliability. The vehicle is launched without pyrotechnics from a ship (or ground) platform, and can be recovered and redeployed."

The Eager Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) is a three-year effort (FY95-FY97) sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and funded through the Program Executive Office for Theater Air Defense (PEO (TAD)) for the development and demonstration of a preferential acquisition decoy for ship self-protection. The effort is being performed by NRL's Tactical Electronic Warfare Division.

Initial flight tests are for the vehicle only, but the payload will be integrated into the vehicle and flight tested during August in preparation for the final system demonstration in September, 1997.

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