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Fighter Jet Uses Infrared Search-and-Track, Destroys Target With AIM-120 Missile

A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle shot down a QF-16 aerial target in the first-ever live-fire of an Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) using an infrared search-and-track (IRST) system.
F-15C Eagle equipped with Lockheed Martin's Legion Pod IRST Block 1.5 system 6 photos
A Legion Pod equips the aircraft with the ability to collaborate with the AIM-120 missile to successfully intercept a targetLockheed Martin's Legion Pod systemLockheed Martin's Legion Pod systemLockheed Martin's Legion Pod systemF15 fighter jet
Almost a year ago, the Air Force achieved two IRST breakthroughs: the first missile fire of a short-range air-to-air AIM-9X missile using the Legion Pod on an F-15C and the first flight of a Legion Pod-equipped F-16.

Now, the U.S. Air Force's effort to get Infrared Search-and-Track (IRST) systems on its F-15s reached another significant milestone on August 5th, when an F-15C Eagle from Eglin Air Force Base's 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron used its IRST to shoot down a QF-16 aerial target.

The fighter jet was fitted with Lockheed Martin's Legion Pod IRST Block 1.5 system, which is designed to identify and track airborne threats over long distances in radar-denied settings. The IRST's target tracking capability was combined with the APG-63v3 RADAR to datalink the target location to the AIM-120 missile.

During the test, sensors from several spectrums worked together to ensure that the missile successfully intercepted the target. Maj. Brian Davis, 85th TES chief of air-to-air weapons and tactics, explained that the test's success was essential because an F-15 equipped with an IRST-cued AIM-120 allows aircrews to achieve detection, tracking, targeting, weapons employment, and verification of an intercept without relying on RADAR energy.

The test demonstrates the ability of the Department of Defense and the Air Force to target an aircraft outside of the radar electromagnetic spectrum.

Additionally, the recent live-fire test represented an opportunity for the members of the 85th TES and the Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force to work together and analyze the datalink characterization in order to further develop follow-on strategies.

According to Lt. Col. Jacob Lindaman, the 85th TES commander, "pairing that with the ability to also adopt the Legion Pod on any platform sets a precedent for what's to come."

press release

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