US Navy Provides Additional Funding for Development of F/A-18E/F IRST Block II Sensor

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is awarded a $152,485,214 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to design, development, integrate and test the Infrared Search and Track System (IRST) Block II, Phase II engineering change as a replacement to the IRST Block I system in support of the F/A-18E/F aircraft. Work will be performed in Orlando, Florida (86 percent); and St. Louis, Missouri (14 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2021. Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $13,000,000 will be obligated at the time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N00019-18-C-1022).


Description: The F/A-18E/F IRST is an Infrared Search and Track (IRST) sensor being developed by Lockheed Martin to fit into the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft. This passive, high-angle sensor is intended to enable long-range detection and tracking of airborne targets under normal and electronic attack and heavy radio frequency/infrared countermeasure environments. The system enhances survivability and lethality in both offensive and defensive counter-air roles thus providing enhanced situational awareness. The F/A-18E/F IRST system is installed in the nose section of the centerline fuel tank on the aircraft. The IRST is the next generation of the F-14D AN/AAS-42 IRST that accumulated over 200,000 flight hours aboard US aircraft carriers. Boeing awarded the technology development contract to Lockheed Martin in May 2009. The US Navy has a requirement for 150 IRST systems with first deliveries due in 2011.

The new IRST technology developed by Lockheed Martin features high resolution providing dramatically improved raid cell count at maximum ranges. Compared to a radar at a maximum range, the IRST is 40 times more accurate. The information gathered by the new sensor can stand alone or be fused with other sensor data to enhance situational awareness, ensuring first-to-see, first-to-shoot capability. It also enhances the engagement range of high-performance air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The IRST has been designed to complement the latest generations of tactical radars providing long-range detection of airborne targets with low false alarms under subsonic and supersonic speed and clutter backgrounds such as blue sky to the severe mountain and urban terrain. An additional benefit is that the IRST systems are effective against low radar cross-section targets while reducing the threat posed by anti-radiation missiles and radar warners.


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