U.S. boosts F/A-18 infrared capability

July 12, 2007 at 5:10 PM
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MCKINNEY, Texas, July 12 (UPI) -- The targeting capabilities of the U.S. F/A-18 attack jet are being upgraded to better accommodate standoff and precision weapons.

The U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon an $18.5 million contract modification for an upgrade to the infrared marker carried in it's AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR pod, which is standard equipment aboard the Hornet and Super Hornet.

The modification effects Lots 4 and 5 of the ATFLIR (Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared) program, which is centered at Raytheon's plants in McKinney, Texas, and El Segundo, Calif. Lot 4 production begins in December, the company said.

Raytheon said in a statement Thursday that the upgrade would improve the F/A-18s performance by adding better capability to lock in on a prospective ground target using infrared from greater distances. ATFLIR also enables the air crew to monitor activity on the ground without getting too close. The Navy and Marine Corps fly Hornets on regular missions that are primarily to gather intelligence or seek out potential targets of opportunity.

"With the insertion of the IR marker, the non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting role of the F/A-18 is greatly expanded," said Raytheon Program Director Roger Nordmeyer. "Equipping Hornets and Super Hornets with this additional mission capability reflects customer demand to make the most of every airborne sensor."

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