USN F/A-18 Super Hornet to get IRST

The F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet Block II is scheduled to receive center pod mounted Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST) systems.

New images have appeared since the time of our original writing. Initial reports are that performance is excellent. The USN has recovered IRST capability that was lost after the retirement of the F-14D.

The Lockheed-Martin F-35 also is to incorporate a chin-mounted IRST system. The IRST approach can defeat radar-band Stealth in some instances, by seeing engine exhaust and frictional heating of the airframe in/against background atmosphere.

IRST can also detect missile release by an opponent. It offers passive location/targeting that will not trigger a target (equipped with a less sophisticated) Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) gear.

When used with medium-range IR missiles an IRST system can offer a stealthy air-to-air engagement option. IRST systems that can produce recordable infrared imagery can be essential in identification/documentation of target(s) and behavior(s) over say - international waters. Super Hornet IRST systems are expected ~ 2012-13.

In a separate (and related?) development, Aviation Week and Space Technology (3-Aug 2009, pg 18) is reporting: “After three years of validating various requirements the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet’s certified flights ceiling has lifted to 41,000 ft from 29,000 ft say officials at Naval Air Systems Command.” AWST goes on: ”All Super Hornet’s Lots 22 and beyond, about 340 aircraft were qualified.”
[Above] Note immense IR exhaust plumes even on subsonic commercial aircraft with non-reheat (non-afterburning) high-bypass, high-efficiency turbofan engines.

Your thoughts?

#f18, #f18hornet, #infrared, #SuperHornet

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  1. why they integrate it on centerline fuel pod? it really doesn't make sense. i prefer the international roadmap variant to be aqcuisited by the USN

  2. The IRST pod allows fleet retrofit w/o having to re-manufacture or acquire new aircraft. Agree that it is a kluge next to an integrated chin design, but it is better than nothing. I believe at BVR, even with calibration and signal processing, ranging accuracy with IRST is inferior to radar but this can be solved by networking multiple aircraft with IRST. Trigonometry should allow much better accuracy in ranging BVR.

  3. We had this capability and much, much more with the F-14D. To be making such a big deal about this ridiculous gas tank mounted IRST is absurd. It is nothing more than an afterthought. The entire rhino design seems to be a collection of compromises and aerodynamic band aids that don't serve any purpose. The advanced Super Hornet (international road map whatever) looks like it wants to be an F-14D. It has more fuel, more powerful engines, and oh yeah, a chin mounted IRST.

  4. F15 SA (Saudi Arabia) has IRST mounted in airframe, it is stragnge to me that USA is giving SA better weapons than has for itself


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