Earlier this month, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet completed a series of risk-reduction tests with an infrared search and track (IRST) system. A Boeing/General Electric/Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control team installed an IRST sensor in the nose of a modified 480-gallon fuel tank for the trials. The sensor was carried on the centreline station during six flights at NAS Patuxent River and four at NAWS China Lake.
IRST is part of the Block II Super Hornet Flight Plan, a series of planned capability enhancements for the aircraft. IRST offers passive long-range detection and tracking of multiple air-to-air targets in a heavy jamming environment. The trials demonstrated the ability of IRST data to be fused with data from other sensors.
Meanwhile, the first F/A-18F for Australia is well advanced in its construction and Boeing is aiming for delivery in July. The Royal Australian Air Force is acquiring 24 Super Hornets, and has announced that 12 are being built with the necessary wiring for possible conversion to EA-18G Growler electronic attack configuration at a later date. Boeing has also suggested that it may develop a “partial EA-18” version that has the Growler’s receiver equipment but no jamming capability. Such an aircraft may be attractive to a number of prospective Super Hornet customers, such as India and Greece.