The US Navy has awarded the Boeing company a US$152 million contract to complete the design, development, integration, and testing of the Infra-Red Search Track (IRST) system for the F/A-18E/F Block III, the latest variant of the Super Hornet, Defense Update reported.
A few days later the company received another US$208 million contract to integrate and produce Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod IRST for the US Air Force F-15C/D fleet.
The new Block II IRST will replace the Block I system which did not meet the Navy’s requirements. This “see first, strike first” capability empowers pilots with greater reaction time, improving survivability.
Development and testing are expected to conclude in 2021, in time for expected Super Hornet Block III deliveries. The first part of this program was an US$89 million order awarded in June 2017. In October, the sensor’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin was awarded US$100 to upgrade the IRST21 sensor for the new Block II standard.
The IRST will enable the Navy fighters to target adversaries beyond visual and radar range, and enhance survivability in radar denied environment, operate against existing and emerging air threats.
Better yet … IRST is completely passive and does not highlight the location of the aircraft, unlike when a pilot decides to use the on-board radar, which can give away its position as radio frequency energy bursts out.
IRST can also work in [most if not] all weather conditions as it uses the infrared rather than the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
While the US services have yet to embrace IRST technology, some of NATO air forces, as well as Russia and China are employing such systems, as well as Singapore and South Korea on their F-15s. (end of excerpt)
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