Through June 30, 2004, Raytheon Co. had delivered 55 of what might be considered the ultimate accessory to aircrews of the US Navy F/A-18 Hornet. The ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-looking Infrared (ATFLIR) targeting pod, developed by Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems (SAS), is currently forward deployed to Super Hornet and F/A-18C hornet squadrons now on cruise in support of continuing operations overseas. ATFLIR is the Department of the Navy’s targeting pod of record, and the service plans to procure up to 574 pods for deployment on every F/A-18 configuration in the fleet. ATFLIR gives naval aviators a three- to five-fold increase in target-recognition range. Its infrared and electro-optical (television format) sensors can detect tactical threats at unprecedented ranges, delivering images that are three to five times clearer than those afforded by any other targeting pod now in production. Its powerful diode-pumped laser has been demonstrated effective above 50,000 feet. Because its sensors and laser share a common optical path with continuous auto-boresight alignment, only ATFLIR assures pinpoint targeting accuracy that minimizes collateral damage. Debby Ybarra, Raytheon’s ATFLIR program director, said: “ATFLIR met every tactical objective in missions flown during Operations Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. We were able to supply the Navy with some pods with an early-operational-capability configuration, and the aircrews were extremely enthusiastic about the performance.” The single ATFLIR pod encompasses all imaging and targeting functions currently requiring three separate pods on the F/A-18. This liberates one air-to-air weapon station for other mission requirements. Fully integrated on all models of the F/A-18 Hornet, ATFLIR is approved for international sales. In both air-to-ground and air-to-air operational missions, ATFLIR will be used to perform precision engagement and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks. Primarily air-to-ground missions include precision strike warfare employing weapons guided by lasers and global positioning systems, forward air controller airborne, close air support, low altitude night navigation and real time battle damage assessment.