U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets with AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR pods.
U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets with AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR pods.

Raytheon Wins $325 Million to Repair US Navy ATFLIR Pods

Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, McKinney, Texas, is awarded $325,000,000 for a firm-fixed-price contract for the repair of the Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared System used in support of the F/A-18 aircraft. Work is expected to be complete by May 2025. This is a five-year base period with no option periods. Annual working capital (U.S. Navy) funds in the amount of $54,507,477 will be obligated at time of award, and funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Supply Systems Command, Weapon Systems Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the contracting activity (N00383-20-D-WC01).

The AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) is a multi-sensor, electro-optical targeting pod incorporating thermographic camera, low-light television camera, target laser rangefinder/laser designator, and laser spot tracker developed and manufactured by Raytheon. It is used to provide navigation and targeting for military aircraft in adverse weather and using precision-guided munitions such as laser-guided bombs. It is intended to replace the earlier AN/AAS-38 Nite Hawk pod in US Navy service. ATFLIR presently is used only by the US Navy on the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the earlier F/A-18C/D and with Marine Corps F/A-18Cs when deployed onboard aircraft carriers.

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AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR)
AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR)

Raytheon’s Advanced Targeting FLIR assures mission success by integrating advanced EO and IR sensors with one of the most powerful lasers on the market. ATFLIR can locate and designate targets day or night at ranges exceeding 40 nautical miles and altitudes surpassing 50,000 feet, outperforming comparable targeting systems. As a powerful net-enabler, it can pass tracking and targeting information to other nodes in the networked battlespace with the speed and precision. The streamlined ATFLIR integrates laser tracking and infrared targeting functions on F/A-18 aircraft into a single compact pod, freeing an air-to-air weapon station for other mission requirements.

ATFLIR is 72 in (183 cm) long, weighs 420 lb (191 kg), and has a slant range of 40 mi (64.3 km), said to be useful at altitude of up to 50,000 ft (15,240 m). It has fewer parts than many previous systems, which is intended to improve serviceability (although early examples, in service with VFA-115 ‘Eagles’ in 2003 experienced problems). Crews indicate that it offers much greater target resolution and image accuracy than previous systems. It is normally carried on one of the fuselage hardpoints otherwise used for AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. 410 pods were delivered to the U.S. Navy. Pods have also been delivered to Switzerland, Australia, and Malaysia.

U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets with  AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR pods.
U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets with AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR pods.
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