Fighter Fling 2003

Annually, each aircraft type community in the Navy has a weeklong combination symposium, award ceremony, and social function.  In the late, lamented F-14 Tomcat community, this was known as the Fighter Fling. And at the annual black tie dinner, the tradition has become to show a video highlight of significant events of the past year, with all the squadrons in the community contributing footage.  This was one of the last celebrations, as the last Tomcats left the fleet in 2005.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KkyHvT4Yzk]

While I greatly enjoy the splodey in the middle, probably the neatest little bit was the cat launch with the gunnery tow target.

The Apollo 13 stuff alludes to the Tomcat community, with a lot of hard work, and very little support from anybody, decided to add the capability of integrating the LANTRIN targeting pod to the jet, giving it an outstanding precision air to ground capability. NAVAIR, the systems manager for all thing Naval Aviation didn’t come up with the idea. The F-14 community just kinda decided to do it, and did so.

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and IRST

In February 2014, the aircrew of an F/A-18 Super Hornet carrying the Navy’s infrared search and track (IRST) system, inspects the aircraft before the first flight with the pod at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. IRST reached a critical milestone Dec. 2, authorizing low-rate initial production of the sensor pod system. (Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin)
In February 2014, the aircrew of an F/A-18 Super Hornet carrying the Navy’s infrared search and track (IRST) system, inspects the aircraft before the first flight with the pod at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. IRST reached a critical milestone Dec. 2, authorizing low-rate initial production of the sensor pod system. (Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin)

Kind of “behind the power curve” on this but Lockheed Martin had achieved “Milestone C” for the IRST-21 flight tested aboard a US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet.  As I understand it milestone C, pending approval, would be the before the IRST is approved for low-rate initial production. See the confusing figure below:

dafaq?
Dafaq?

Yeah I know that we attempt to clarify things here but I’m not even going to attempt to talk about the DoD acquisition process (that’s what the comment section is for) so my intent here is to give you “the big picture” as to exactly where the IRST-21 is in terms of being fleet deployed.

Lockheed Martin's IRST-21.
Lockheed Martin’s IRST-21.

The Lockheed Martin IRST is a self contained passive infrared sensor that’s designed to search air-to-air targets. Again the sensor is passive, meaning it doesn’t emit detectable signals that could give away the platform’s presence to the enemy. The IRST-21 on the Super Hornet is installed on the nose of the aircraft’s centerline fuel tank can be integrated into other tactical airborne platforms.

See the brochure here:

[scribd id=249277597 key=key-ioExJiNvK2oiPBwEEFcT mode=scroll]

Investment in IRSTs really isn’t new they’ve been around for quite a while but it speaks to the threat that’s out there even with stealth aircraft being used by potential adversaries.

Oh yeah and this too <cough, cough>:

The AN/AXX-1 TCS (televison camera system) is left and the IRST is right on the F-14D Tomcat.
The AN/AXX-1 TCS (televison camera system) is left and the IRST is right on the F-14D Tomcat.

Just sayin’ baby 🙂