Lockheed Martin has been contracted for phase II of the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block II Infrared Search and Track (IRST) program. The contract, which is worth $108 million, was awarded by the aircraft’s prime contractor, Boeing, and will have Lockheed Martin complete development, platform integration, flight test, and qualification of the IRST21 Block II sensor system. The efforts are meant to enhance the detection, tracking, and ranging capabilities of the IRST21 sensor system in radar-denied environments.
“We are continuing a long legacy of delivering unmatched sensor technologies to our customers around the globe,” says Michael Williamson, vice-president of Sensors & Global Sustainment at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “The IRST21 sensor system provides U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F operators with superior detection and survivability capabilities.” The IRST21 sensor system uses infrared (IR) search-and-track technology to passively detect and track airborne threats in environments.
The IRST21 sensor system mounted on the Navy’s F/A-18E/F fighter uses IR technology to detect and track threats in environments that are difficult for radar systems. (Courtesy of Lockheed Martin)
The IRST21 sensor system supports both Navy and Air Force efforts. It’s currently mounted in the nose of the F/A-18E/F's centerline fuel tank (see figure) and in Legion Pod for other fighter and on-fighter platforms. The system is in full production and has been in use for more than 300,000 flight hours on the U.S. Navy's F-14 and F/A-18E/F, international F-15 platforms, and the U.S. Air Force's F-15C and F-16 fighter aircraft.