The US Navy is experiencing software reliability problems with the initial batch of Raytheon ASQ-228 ATFLIR targeting pods equipping the first Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets bound for the Gulf region.

Raytheon hopes it will have fixed the problem before the next two F/A-18E/F squadrons are deployed.

ATFLIR's performance has been affected by a number of software-related issues, such as when F/A-18Es have pulled high-g manoeuvres. Raytheon says only one sortie has been lost due to the pod and it claims to have resolved 90-95% of the issues, but initial testing has been hindered by a lack of pods.

Three of the four development pods were deployed with the first F/A-18E squadrons aboard the USS Lincoln last July. The ship has since been ordered back to the Gulf. The pods were upgraded with new processors, but were not as extensively tested as the first pre-production pods now being delivered.

Four of the newer pods have been delivered to the next two F/A-18E and F squadrons now working up for deployment. So far, none of the pods have failed, says Raytheon, which had planned to have changes in place for the start of operational evaluation - but that has now been halted by Gulf deployments.

Source: Flight International