The crew of the F/A-18 Super Hornet carrying the Navy’s Infrared Search and Track (IRST) pod at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)
The passive, long-range IRST sensor searches and detects heat sources, 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, giving superior first-see, first-shoot advantage to pilot against enemy aircrafts. The IRST, provides the F/A-18 an alternate air-to-air targeting system in a high-threat electronic-attack environment.
The system is being developed under a $135 million contract awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2011 and is currently planned to be deployed by 2017. The IRST sensor was initially tested last year on a Boeing King Air test aircraft.