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The US Air Force is preparing an assault surprise for China in a possible war in the Pacific

Asia (, - The A-10 attack aircraft has earned its reputation as a tank destroyer, but now the US Air Force is testing a 50-year-old combat vehicle, originally designed to provide close air support to ground forces, for a different mission: launching decoys for defense other military aircraft. About this today, December 15, writes the information and analytical portal Business Insider.

During exercises in the Pacific in early November, the A-10s were equipped with the ADM-160 "miniature airborne decoy". Described as a sort of cruise missile, the 2.4m long MALD weighing less than 136kg has a range of 800km. It is equipped with a signature enhancement system that mimics the radar performance and flight profiles of other US combat aircraft. The idea is to launch MALD salvos ahead of a massive airstrike and mislead the enemy as to how many planes are approaching them and from where.

During the Green Flag-West exercise from November 2nd to 9th, the DATM-160 - a training version of MALD - was tested on A-10s off the coast of Naval Air Station North Island in California.

"The A-10 can carry up to 16 MALDs, the same as the (strategic bomber) B-52 and 12 more than the (fighter) F-16," the US Air Force said in a press release.

Interestingly, MALD is not considered an A-10 defense. Rather, the veteran U.S. attack aircraft will use its decoys to support advanced platforms such as the F-35 and F-22 fifth generation, as well as other strike air platforms, the American publication notes.

For example, during an exercise over the Philippine Sea on November 9, A-10 pilots simulated the use of MALD in an "integrated strike mission simulation" with B1-B bombers.

“Having a battle-tested platform like the A-10 providing support with its MALD decoys increases the likelihood that our aircraft and weapons will successfully hit their targets,” said Maj. Daniel Winningham, B-1B Pilot Instructor at part of the 37th bomber squadron of the US Air Force.

Maj. Taylor Raasch, Air Force 66 Squadron instructor who participated in the aforementioned Green Flag-West exercise, noted that the A-10 could “assist in Fifth Generation combat against the impending threat by providing a unique multi-species capability.” weapons and work in harsh conditions.”

While the A-10 has a decent range of about 700 miles (over 1100 km), which can be increased with aerial refueling, a longer range aircraft with "miniature traps" can be more useful, especially in the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean. With the US military focusing on the Pacific, some experts argue that the A-10 would be useful in a war against China, especially if armed with long-range missiles, the publication says.

The US Air Force is preparing an assault surprise for China in a possible war in the Pacific