Raytheon Co. was awarded a $78 M US Navy contract for a second Low Rate Initial Production (LIRP) of the ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) pod, the latest generation in targeting technology. The company's Air Combat and Strike Systems business unit is responsible for ATFLIR.

"We are very proud of the capabilities and the functions of the ASQ-228. It is the most capable, cost-effective targeting system available," said Jack O. Pearson, VP and general manager of the business unit.

LRIP-2 represents the next major milestone in the ATFLIR program. Raytheon will deliver 28 pods for the F/A-18 E/F and two pod adapter units for the F/A-18 C/D. The US Navy and the Marine Corps are programmed to receive 574 pods with spares to equip their F/A-18 C/D and E/F aircraft.

The first two production pods were delivered in April and May. The ASQ-228 ATFLIR airborne targeting pod is scheduled to achieve early operational capability with the Navy first F/A-18E squadron later this year.

"ATFLIR will produce a revolutionary capability for F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets," said Wesley Motooka, senior director and general manager of Navy and Marine Corps programs at the business unit. "The ATFLIR will allow Navy and Marine Corps pilots to find, positively identify and destroy enemy targets from ranges and altitudes outside of harm's way."

The ATFLIR combines three pods into one: a targeting FLIR, a laser spot tracker and a navigation FLIR.

"The ATFLIR combines state-of-the-art third generation FLIR, a CCD television camera and high power diode-pumped laser technologies that improve performance and reliability over existing pods by 3 to 5 times," said Jim Hausle, program manager for ATFLIR. During more than 550 developmental tests and operational test flights, eight test pods demonstrated geopoint accuracy, laser designation and long range target recognition. Furthermore, lifecycle costs are two-thirds of the current system, with a higher mean time between failure and decreased time to repair.