EL SEGUNDO, Calif., 23 Dec. 2006. The Raytheon Co. Space and Airborne Systems segment in El Segundo, Calif., won a $156.3 million contract modification to provide 50 Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) pods for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18C/D and F/A-18E/F Hornet jet fighter-bombers.
The AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR combines laser tracking and infrared targeting functions in one pod fitted to the underside of the Hornet jet. The system has midwave infrared targeting and navigation forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensors, as well as electro-optical sensor, laser rangefinder, laser target designator, and a laser spot tracker.
Until Raytheon provided ATFLIR to the Navy, Hornet jets have used three separate pods for laser tracking and infrared targeting functions. Now the system frees an air-to-air weapon station on the aircraft for other mission functions.
Awarding the contract to Raytheon were officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.
The ATFLIR system substantially increases in target detection and target recognition range over first-generation systems; provides pinpoint accuracy and assessment from longer standoff ranges; offers the most advanced laser designation capability available; and provides electro-optical and infrared imagery superior to that of any other targeting pod in production, Raytheon officials say.
The electro-optical ATFLIR uses PPC4A single board computers, MIL-STD-1553 interfaces, and Fibre Channel modules from GE Fanuc Embedded Systems in Albuquerque, N.M. -- formerly Radstone Technology of Towcester, England, which GE Fanuc acquired earlier this year.
The ATFLIR system can detect and discriminate targets at altitudes and ranges that are approximately double that of the Air Force LANTIRN, and four times that of the Navy and Marine Corps Nite Hawk system, experts say.
The ATFLIR provides real-time passive thermal imagery in television format, day or night, to detect and identify enemy targets. Each new F/A-18E/F aircraft will have an ATFLIR installed as it comes off the Boeing assembly line on the semi-recessed, fuselage "cheek" station aft of the engine inlet.
Raytheon will build the latest batch of 50 ATFLIRs in McKinney, Texas, and El Segundo, Calif. Work should be finished in November 2009.