Boeing Awarded NAVAIR Contract to Develop IRST Block II for F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Aircraft

Boeing has been awarded a contract to design, development, integrate and test the Infrared Search and Track System Block II (IRST Block II), Phase II engineering change as a replacement to the IRST Block I system in support of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft.

The cost-plus-incentive-fee contract, worth around $152 million, was awarded by U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) located in Patuxent River, Maryland. Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $13 million will be obligated at the time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively procured pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1.

IRST Block II program is specifically intended to provide engineering upgrades, improving the passive long-wave infrared receiver and updating the built-in processors of the current IRST system. The contract work will be performed in Orlando, Florida (86 percent); and St. Louis, Missouri (14 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2021.

Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST)

An infrared search and track (IRST) system (sometimes known as infrared sighting and tracking) is a method for detecting and tracking objects which give off infrared signature such as jet aircraft and helicopters.

IRST is a generalized case of forward looking infrared (FLIR), i.e. from forward-looking to all-round situation awareness. Such systems are passive (thermographic camera), meaning they do not give out any radiation of their own, unlike radar. This gives them the advantage that they are difficult to detect.

However, because the atmosphere and adverse weather attenuates infrared to some extent (although not as much as visible systems), the range of IRST system compared to a radar is limited.

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