Putting the "Latest" in Legion Pod
How much do you know about Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod? In the interview below, Program Manager Paul Hey describes its unique features and what’s next for the advanced sensor system. From flight tests to sensor configurations – and everything in between – learn about Legion Pod’s latest and greatest.
Paul – have you tested Legion Pod in flight?
Yes. Last June, Legion Pod completed its first flight tests aboard an F-16 aircraft. Using our IRST21 sensor, Legion Pod successfully tracked a number of airborne targets in various tactical scenarios. We’re currently finalizing efforts to fly on the F-15C, having completed a fit check last year.
We have a long history of rapidly integrating our infrared search and track systems…in a variety of configurations…across platforms worldwide. Whether with our IRST21 on the F/A-18E/F, on the F-16 or on international F-15 platforms, we’ve completed hundreds of hours of flight tests in representative environments. When we say that we’ve got experience, that we’re low risk for our customers….we mean it.
What sets Legion Pod apart from other sensor systems?
Most unique, I think, is that Legion Pod is a multi-sensor pod, meaning it allows for simultaneous operations of multiple sensors. It’s not just an infrared search and track system or just a targeting pod – it can perform multiple functions at once. More importantly, because Legion Pod was designed as an open architecture system, it can accommodate new sensors without costly modifications to the pod or to the host aircraft.
Legion Pod also has a common interface – one that allows it to plug-and-play across aircraft platforms. Basically, we integrate quickly without affecting the host aircraft’s operational flight program – again, reducing risk and cost for our customers.
What’s your latest development effort?
Similar to other Lockheed Martin products, we have a pre-planned development program for Legion Pod. We recently completed a major milestone – initial operations of our advanced sensor, which we’re integrating into Legion Pod. The advanced sensor provides significant increases in detection, tracking and ranging capabilities in radar-denied environments – more than doubling range, in fact, as compared to current capability.
Over the next 12 months, we’ll complete multiple flight tests of Legion Pod with the advanced sensor, IRST21 and alternative sensors; there are a number of configurations that we’re evaluating. We’re always thinking about the next threat – what advancements we need to make, what upgrades are required for today’s and tomorrow’s capability gaps. Customer feedback is critical in regards to our development plan.
What are the next steps for deploying Legion Pod?
Our understanding is that the U.S. Air Force has interest in an infrared search and track capability for the F-15C, and we’re awaiting announcements regarding the formal acquisition path. Clearly, we believe Legion Pod can provide this critical capability, and with the pod being production-ready, we’re confident we can quickly deliver and deploy to our warfighters.
We also continue to respond to requests from interested customers for fighter and non-fighter aircraft alike. Again, due to Legion Pod’s multi-sensor structure, it offers a variety of capabilities for the tactical environment.
What makes Legion Pod an affordable choice for customers?
You’ve heard me mention IRST21 a few times – that’s our infrared search and track sensor that’s in production for the U.S. Navy. With IRST21 also integrated in Legion Pod, we believe the U.S. Air Force can leverage significant development efforts and synergize logistics and sustainment programs, which are often major cost drivers for pods and sensors.
Additionally, we know our customers can’t afford to modify pods or aircraft every time they want to incorporate a new capability or integrate across a new platform. That’s why Legion Pod’s open architecture and common interface are so important – they significantly reduce these costs while enabling us to field enhanced capabilities. It’s a practice common to Legion Pod and other successful systems we produce – like Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod. There’s no question that affordability is a priority.
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Legion Pod is a Registered Trademark of Lockheed Martin Corporation.
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Sniper is a Registered Trademark of Lockheed Martin Corporation.