Feb 18, 2014
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — The Navy’s Infrared Search and Track (IRST), a passive, long-range sensor that searches for and detects heat sources, successfully completed its first flight aboard an F/A-18 Super Hornet on Feb. 11, from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
The system can simultaneously track multiple targets and provide a highly effective air-to-air targeting capability, even when encountering advanced threats equipped with radar-jamming technology.
Because IRST is passive, unlike radar systems, it does not give off radiation and is harder to detect.
“Adding an advanced infrared sensor to the Super Hornet broadens the Navy’s warfighting ability,” said Capt. Frank Morley, the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office’s (PMA-265) program manager. “Combined with the Super Hornet’s advanced radar and the Growler’s electronic-attack radar-jamming ability, IRST will transform the way the Super Hornet conducts air-to-air operations and allows the fleet to dominate the skies in all threat environments. It is truly a game-changing capability.”
The requirement for an IRST on the Super Hornet is the direct result of advancements in threat electronic-warfare systems. The system, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, provides the F/A-18 Super Hornet an alternate air-to-air targeting system in a high-threat electronic-attack environment.
“I am proud of how we have worked with our industry partners, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to bring this much-needed detection capability one step closer to the fleet,” said Brian Hall, deputy program manager for Spectrum Dominance in PMA-265. “As the current threat environment continues to evolve, PMA-265 continues to advance the fleet and warfighter in order to stay ahead of these threats.”
The first flight was completed by Lt. Jonathan “Dos Equis” Beaton and Lt. David “Fritzl” Parnell of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31 with support from the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Test Team led by Dave Coit. Randell Brenner and Brian Winder fulfilled flight test engineer roles, and Robert Baker provided ground support.
"The entire team at VX-31 and the F/A-18 Advanced Weapons Laboratory, together with their industry partners, spent the weeks before the event diligently preparing the IRST for flight," said Cmdr. Jean LeBlanc, deputy program manager for Spectrum Dominance. "The success of these efforts, coordinated across multiple U.S. locations, was proven during the two hour sortie over the southern California desert."
IRST is just one of the Navy’s F/A-18E/F flight-plan capabilities designed to ensure the Block II Super Hornet will stay ahead of known and emerging threats through 2025 and beyond.
Other F/A-18E/F Super Hornet next-generation capabilities included in the flight plan are advanced fused sensors, Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Counter Electronic Attack (CEA), Distributed Targeting System (DTS), Multi-sensor Integration (MSI), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), IP-Based Linked Networks and advanced air-to-ground and air-to-air precision weapons operating on an open-architecture backplane.
“With the successful completion of the IRST first flight, we are looking forward to moving on to the next steps required to field this invaluable capability,” Morley said.
PEO(T) Public Affairs