The USAF’s 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron conducted the first-ever live fire of an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) from an F-15C Jet using an Infrared Search-and-Track system(IRST), successfully shooting a QF-16 aerial target on August 5.
“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,” explained Maj. Brian Davis, 85th TES Chief of Air-to-Air Weapons and Tactics in a press release.
The F-15C was equipped with Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod IRST Block 1.5 system. The IRST passive target tracking capability was combined with the APG-63v3 RADAR to datalink the target location to the AIM-120.
“It’s also not susceptible to radio frequency jamming or a target’s low observable design,” he said. During the test, the sensors in multiple spectrums collaborated for the missile to successfully intercept the target and closed kill chains.
The test also coincided with the fielding evaluation of the Legion Pod Block 1.5 IRST, where members of both the 85th TES and Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force collaborated to test the datalink characterization to further develop follow-on tactics.
“This proves the capabilities of the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force to lethally target an aircraft outside of the traditional radar electromagnetic spectrum,” said Lt. Col. Jacob Lindaman. “Pairing that with the ability to also adopt the Legion Pod on any platform sets a precedent for what’s to come.”