Nov. 26 (UPI) — Lockheed Martin has received a contract for the second phase of development and testing for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block II Infrared Search and Track program for the U.S. Navy.
The award, announced Monday by Lockheed, was placed by the prime Super Hornet contractor Boeing and will include development, integration and flight testing of the IRST21 Block II sensor package.
The IRST21 sensor uses infrared to locate and track airborne targets in radar-denied environments, or when a passive system is needed to avoid detection.
IRST21 is currently mounted on the F/A-18E/F’s centerline fuel tank, and has seen use in an underwing pod version on the F-14 Tomcat, now retired, and the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The IRST autonomously detects and tracks airborne targets at long ranges, and can merge the data with the fighters’ other sensors to provide a multi-dimensional view of threats. Its passive operation allows target detection and tracking without giving away the plane’s location and identification with detectable radar transmissions.
The F/A-18 Super Hornet is the primary carrier- and land-based multi-role fighter of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. It has been widely exported and is expected to serve for decades to come alongside the F-35. The E/A-18G Growler is an electronic warfare jamming and anti-radar variant of the series.