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Lockheed Martin and Hughes combine on IRST

Lockheed Martin and its principal subcontractor Hughes Aircraft are developing a shipboard infra-red search-and-track (IRST) system to combat incoming anti-ship cruise missiles.

Under a $15 million, two-year contract, Lockheed Martin will develop and test an engineering demonstration model of the IRST. After completing phase one of engineering and manufacturing development (EMD), the contractor team will be awarded an additional $30 million for a second EMD phase, lasting 36 months.

A mission-need statement and an operational-requirements document justify deployment of the system.

Initial EMD expenditures are covered, but funding for the second phase of EMD and for production is not yet in place. The IRST, which senses variations in infra-red energy, is installed on the US Navy's Grumman F-14. An advanced IRST is under development for the US Air Force's Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22.

The shipboard application borrows from both programmes, mainly using signal processing and algorithmic techniques.

Plans call for the IRST to be deployed after the turn of the century on ten types of US Navy warships, including the Aegis cruiser and the future CVX aircraft carrier. Between 100 and 150 warships would be equipped.

The shipboard IRST includes an on-mast scanner, being developed by Hughes Aircraft, a below-decks signal processor and a system control-and-display function which interfaces with the ship's combat system.