Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Boeing and the U.S. Navy flew an F/A-18 Super Hornet tactical aircraft equipped with an Infrared Search & Track Block II pod for the first time in late 2019, Boeing announced on Wednesday.
The IRST Block is a passive, long-range sensor incorporating infrared and other sensor technologies for targeting, with the new version a key part of Block III upgrades to the Super Hornet, the company said.
The Block III upgrades, which are currently in the risk reduction phase of development, includes enhanced network capability, longer range with conformal fuel tanks, an advanced cockpit system, signature improvements and an enhanced communication system.
"The IRST Block II gives the F/A-18 improved optics and processing power, significantly improving pilot situational awareness of the entire battle space," said Jennifer Tebo, Boeing Director of F/A-18 Development.
The Block II pod will be delivered to the Navy in 2021 and is expected to reach initial operational capability shortly thereafter.