U.S. Navy fighter jets to upgrade IRST21 sensor systems

ORLANDO, Fla. Lockheed Martin recently received two contracts to upgrade its IRST21 passive, long-range sensor system for use on the U.S. Navy's fleet of F/A-18E/F combat jets.

The Block II contracts -- awarded by aircraft prime contractor Boeing -- free up as much as $100 million to develop advanced software, perform hardware upgrades, and deliver prototypes of the technology update.

The IRST21 sensor system uses technology to detect and track airborne threats. Company officials say that compared to radar, IRST21 significantly enhances the resolution of multiple targets, enabling pilots to accurately identify threat formations at longer ranges; the resulting "see first, strike first" capability empowers pilots with greater reaction time, thereby improving survivability.

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