Wednesday, December 10, 2014

US Navy approves Super Hornet IRST for low-rate initial production - IHS Jane's 360

US Navy approves Super Hornet IRST for low-rate initial production - IHS Jane's 360: The US Navy (USN) has awarded Milestone C acquisition approval for an infrared search-and-track (IRST) system for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced on 2 December.

Having completed its first flight aboard a Super Hornet in February, the podded AN/ASG-34 IRST will now begin low-rate initial production (LRIP) for six units needed to take the programme forward to initial operating capability (IOC).

According to NAVAIR, with the awarding of Milestone C, "performance and aeromechanical flight testing will continue to determine the IRST capability's limits within aircraft constraints and to ensure operational stability and safety".

Developed by Lockheed Martin, with Boeing and General Electric, the AN/ASG-34 is a passive system geared at giving the Super Hornet the capability to locate and engage airborne and ground targets when use of the Raytheon AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar would give away the aircraft's position.

Unlike most other IRST systems that are fully integrated with their host aircraft, the AN/ASG-34 is designed to be carried in a modified centreline drop tank. Boeing officials have previously told IHS Jane's that locating the IRST underneath the aircraft should have no adverse effect on its ability to identify and track aircraft that might be flying higher than the Super Hornet, and that at 10 miles (16 km) from the target aircraft it will provide unlimited visibility up to 60,000 ft (as high as any target would fly).

Further, officials claim that having a podded system has the advantage of not requiring invasive integration work with the host aircraft, and the pod is able to hold 330 US gallons (1,249 litres) of fuel so little in terms of range is lost.