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Electronic warfare expendables dispenser

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An electronic warfare expendables dispenser, such as an AN/ALE-47 is part of the suite of electronic warfare devices aboard a protected aircraft, ship, or land vehicle. It may be a standalone system, subordinate to an electronic countermeasures suite controller, or the suite controller may manage the expendables. Modern devices replace dedicated flare and chaff dispensers, such as the separate AN/ALE-20 and AN/ALE-24 for the B-52.

On manual or computer-controlled command, it ejects various expendables, in a standard cartridge form factor, such as passive radar-reflecting chaff, infrared countermeasures (e.g., flares to confuse heat-seeking missile guidance. Recently, the range of expendables has expanded to active devices such disposable radar jammers.

In addition to active and passive countermeasures, expendables now include sensors for both electronic support, electronic warfare, and other intelligence functions such as chemical weapon detection using materials MASINT. In addition to the truly expendable items usually released as cartridges, a modern dispenser system will control towed decoys (e.g., AN/ALE-55) that lure radar- and infrared-guided missiles that avoid the other countermeasures.

In shipboard applications, expendables may include acoustic decoys to defend against submarines and torpedoes, complementing towed decoys such as the AN/SLQ-25 Nixie. Submarines commonly use a variety of expendable countermeasures, ranging from simple bubble generators, to cable-controlled towed units, to autonomous submarine decoys in a torpedo case.

Land warfare vehicles may use expendable smoke cartridges to obscure them against visually guided weapons, although more modern thermal imagers are not fooled by conventional smoke.