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You can't run -- and you can't hide

The King Air test aircraft

Boeing

The Boeing Test & Evaluation King Air test aircraft enables the IRST program to go above and beyond what lab simulation can achieve by actually flying the hardware.

In a continuously evolving battle environment, the heat is always on. And the F/A-18 and EA-18G programs’ infrared search and track (IRST) capability is taking full advantage.

“It basically senses heat in the sky,” said Rodney Kutz, IRST lead flight test engineer. “You can’t stealth an IRST very easily. It enables you to see targets that are not emitting radar or see stealthy targets.”

Expected to achieve initial operating capability in just a few years, the IRST hardware already has taken to the skies aboard a King Air -- a flying test bed that puts an affordable price tag on rapid development of the capability.

“The King Air allows us to have a payload capability that allows us to carry test engineers on board -- allows them to carry all their equipment,” said Jeff Brundt, flight test engineer for Boeing Test & Evaluation. “We’re considered a rapid prototyping shop.”

Working in concert with existing and developing technologies for the Super Hornet, the IRST capability will help ensure that the Super Hornet continues to be the most affordable, capable and available fighter aircraft in the skies now and well into the future.