Frencho wrote:Actually, the USAF introduced IRST pods before the USSR air branches.
Infrared Search and Track was invented by Texas Instruments, further developed by Hugues Aircraft and by 1967 Crusaders and F-4 Phantoms were equipped with IRST pods during the Vietnam War, half a decade before the Flogger B (MIG-23M) ever went into production in 1972!
The USAF and USN pilots feedback was that IRST was beyond useless and gave no operational benefit due to blurry image quality and low detection ranges. This lead the USA’s decision to leave IRST on the backburner for a couple of decades.
Meanwhile optronics pods like Litening, Lantirn, Sniper, Legion, Damocles, Talios can do all the things integrated IRST can do, but much better, on any combat plane able to fusion the pod’s sensors feed.
Simply because most integrated IRST tech dates from the mid 80s to late 90s and haven’t been overhauled since then.
Then, semi-conductors, CMOS image sensors and camera tech overall saw an exponential growth in quality and capabilities by the late 2000s. This is mostly linked with the digital revolution on the consumer market: RED Cinema, GoPro, smartphone cameras, dash cams you name it.
So right now, IRST is back in force because the civilian market did a good job miniaturizing powerful optics and sensors with excellent semi-conductors and modules to process the raw data.
Hell, I call BS on all those nice brochures singing praise about the Su-27 and MIG-29 integrated IRSTs, because even the ones on the Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-35 are already considered obsolete by targeting and recon pod standards.
The advertised detection ranges on any integrated IRST+FLIR are as BS as my USB 3.1 Gen 2 port reaching 10 gigabit/s transfer speeds.
Concerning the F-35, EOTS integrated IRST is already considered outdated because it’s based on an older Sniper module, and the bloody plane is not even operational yet! When it reaches operational status by the late 2020s, EOTS will be downright obsolete.
In my opinion it’s much easier and cheaper to just swap pods every decade than to overhaul integrated IRST, because the pace of image sensor quality and processing power is exponential these days.
Lastly, Russians have been getting all their critical optronic components from French companies (THALES/SAFRAN) since the late 90s, be it MBT thermal cameras or aircraft/helicopter IRSTs. Now due to sanctions the Russian defense industry can’t get French optronics anymore. Curious how European sanctions hit Russia in 2015 and all their lavish defense programs fall flat…
P.S : No the Foxhound is not stealthy, it's a big ass plane with no RCS reduction features, huge reactors and exhaust and non-stealthy commlinks because stealthy commlinks are exclusive to the F-22 and F-35 so far. If turning off the radar is what you consider stealth, then every airplane can be stealthy.
Thankfully, Lockheed Martin is developing (privately at the moment) an upgrade for the EOTS that can
fit in the space the original internal EOTS fits in. It may end up on hundreds, or thousands, of newer F-35s if the government wants it, and will be able to be upgraded on to older birds.