Navy Super Hornet's long-range sensor system gets green light for LRIP

ORLANDO, Fla. U.S. Navy officials granted approval for the infrared search and track (IRST) system on the F/A-18 Super Hornet to begin low-rate initial production (LRIP). The system was designed and integrated by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The system includes ’s IRST21 , the FPU-13 Fuel Tank Assembly from GE Aviation, and the Industry Environmental Control unit from Meggitt Defense.

“This ‘see first, strike first’ capability can be used in a variety of threat environments,” says U.S. Navy F/A-18 program manager Capt. Frank Morley. The Navy plans to deploy IRST on the F/A-18 Super Hornet in 2017.

IRST21 is the latest generation of Lockheed Martin’s IRST sensor system, which has logged more than 300,000 flight hours on the U.S. Navy’s F-14 and international F-15 platforms. The long-range IRST21 sensor utilizes infrared search and track technology to detect, track, and enable the Super Hornet to engage threats with air-to-air weapons.

In addition to detecting airborne threats, IRST also enhances multiple target resolution compared to , by providing greater discrimination of threat formations at longer ranges. Data from the IRST21 sensor is then fused with other on-board F/A-18 sensor data to increase .