US Air Force Conducts Maiden IRST-Cued AMRAAM Test Launch 

The US Air Force (USAF) test-fired a live Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) using an Infrared Search-and-Track (IRST) system for the first time last week.

An F-15C Eagle equipped with a Legion Pod IRST Block 1.5 system launched the missile, striking a QF-16 target drone, the service revealed in a statement.

The Legion Pod

The Legion Pod combines with the Eagle’s APG-63v3 RADAR “to datalink the target location to the AIM-120 [AMRAAM] to put the weapon on target,” the service explained.

The Lockheed Martin-made Pod uses infrared to track an aircraft’s heat signature, which allows it to avoid radar jamming.

The “completely passive” system doesn’t emit any radiation of its own, unlike an on-board radar, which might reveal its location and alert an enemy aircraft that it is being targeted, Global Defense Technology magazine explained

Can Track Stealth Aircraft 

The technology allows pilots to track stealth aircraft without revealing their presence.  

Maj. Brian Davis, 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron chief of air-to-air weapons and tactics, stated that an F-15 equipped with an IRST-cued AIM-120 “enables aircrews to achieve detection, tracking, targeting, weapons employment and verification of an intercept without being dependent upon RADAR energy.”


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