Boeing [NYSE: BA] has announced that it teamed with the US Navy to fly an F/A-18 Super Hornet equipped with an Infrared Search & Track (IRST) Block II pod in late 2019, the company said.
IRST Block II is a critical component of the Block III Super Hornet. The Block III conversion will include enhanced network capability, longer range with conformal fuel tanks, an advanced cockpit system, signature improvements and an enhanced communication system. The updates are expected to keep the F/A-18 in active service for decades to come.
Currently in the risk reduction phase of development, IRST Block II flights on the Super Hornet allow Boeing and the Navy to collect valuable data on the system before deployment to the fleet. The Block II variant will be delivered to the Navy in 2021, reaching Initial Operational Capability shortly thereafter.