Boeing expects to award Lockheed Martin a full development and production contract before the end of the year for the integration of the Legion Pod onto the F-15C Eagle combat aircraft, a senior official told Jane’s on 22 March.
The modular infrared search-and-track (IRST) sensor package has already flown on the Eagle, and has been chosen by the F-15 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to replace the current interim IRST that is packaged in the Talon HATE communications pod carried on the aircraft’s centreline.
“Prime contractor Boeing and partner Lockheed Martin worked with the US Air Force [USAF] to conduct 11 test flights of the new system at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida in January,” Steve Parker, vice-president F-15 Programs at Global Strike, Boeing Military Aircraft, told Jane’s . “Legion Pod gives the F-15 the ability to search for and track targets in radar-denied environments. A full development and production contract award is expected later this year.”
Although a USAF platform and upgrade programme, the choice for the F-15C IRST system has been left to Boeing. IRST enables the host aircraft to acquire and track airborne targets through the heat generated by the jet engine and through aerodynamic heating of the airframe as it travels through the atmosphere. Being a passive system, the target aircraft does not know that it is being tracked.
The Legion Pod houses the IRST21 long-wave infrared sensor (officially designated AN/ASG-34), which is already fitted to the US Navy’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet as part of an interim drop tank/IRST sensor combination. As noted in Jane’s C4ISR & Mission Systems: Air , the Legion Pod is equipped with advanced networking and data processing technology, and also supports the emerging Multi-Domain Adaptable Processing System.
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