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EO/IR Special Report: Lockheed Martin promotes IRST sensors

14th February 2018 - 14:00 GMT | by Wendell Minnick in Singapore


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Lockheed Martin was promoting its Infrared Search and Track (IRST) sensors for regional fighters in the Asia-Pacific region at Singapore Airshow 2018. 

Paul Lemmo, vice president of Missiles and Fire Control/SOF CLSS at Lockheed Martin, gave a presentation at the exhibition on the company’s progress in the IRST field.

Lockheed offers two types of sensor pods for US fighters, starting with the IRST21 for the USN’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and the Legion Pod for the USAF’s F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15C Eagle.

Both sensors provide passive, long-range detection of airborne threats, and they scan, detect, sort, track and engage targets autonomously. The sensors are ‘out of band’, and this makes them immune to ‘radar frequency detection and electronic attack'.

He said that ‘the range is classified,’ but did confirm that weather degrades its capabilities, though this can be augmented by fusing it with the host's radar or Lockheed Martin’s Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod. 

A plug-and-play interface enables transportability across fighter and non-fighter platforms such as UAVs.

In 2017 the USAF ordered 130 IRST21 pods for the F-16C, and currently there are 180 IRST21 pods in low-rate initial production for the navy’s F/A-18E/Fs, with expected delivery in the near term. 

Regarding IRST, Lemmo said there has been ‘no interest yet for the F-22 Raptor due to stealth issues'.

Joe Stout, director of communications at Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Control, told Shephard that, beyond a previous sale to Korea for their F-15K Slam Eagle, ‘there are no other Asia-Pacific countries that we can disclose'. Nevertheless, ‘we continue to pursue a variety of opportunities in the region'. 

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