USAF test fires tracking-system-assisted missile from F-15C aircraft
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USAF test fires tracking-system-assisted missile from F-15C aircraft

11 Aug 2021 (Last Updated August 11th, 2021 16:58)

The F-15C Eagle jet, equipped with a Legion Pod IRST Block 1.5 system, successfully downed a QF-16 aerial target.

USAF test fires tracking-system-assisted missile from F-15C aircraft
An 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron F-15C Eagle, showcases the Legion Pod IRST Block 1.5 system. The legion pod equips the aircraft with the ability to collaborate with the AIM-120 missile to intercept a target. Credit: USAF / 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin.

A US Air Force (USAF) F-15C Eagle jet has successfully test fired an Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) using an Infrared Search-and-Track (IRST) system.

The test was conducted by the US Air Force’s (USAF) 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES).

During the test, the Legion Pod IRST Block 1.5 system-equipped aircraft hit a QF-16 aerial target.

This is the first time that an F-15C jet downed a target using a tracking-system-assisted missile.

85th TES chief of air-to-air weapons and tactics major Brian Davis said: “This successful live missile test is significant because an F-15 equipped with an IRST-cued AIM-120 allows us to achieve detection, tracking, targeting, weapons employment, and verification of an intercept without being dependent upon RADAR energy.

“It’s also not susceptible to radiofrequency jamming or a target’s low observable design.”

The test also showcases USAF’s capabilities to target an aircraft outside of the traditional radar electromagnetic spectrum, noted the 85th TES commander lieutenant colonel Jacob Lindaman.

The latest milestone follows USAF’s two other successes: the first missile shot of an AIM-9X using the Legion Pod on an F-15C; and the first flight of a Legion Pod-equipped F-16.

In June, Optomec secured a process development contract for additive manufacturing (AM) repair of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets’ engine components.

Earlier this year, Boeing formally handed over the second F-15EX next-generation fighter aircraft to the USAF ahead of schedule. The jet is a ready-now replacement for the ageing F-15C aircraft.