Integrated Test Team proves multi-MDS Legion pod targeting capabilities

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin
  • 53rd Wing

Eglin’s Integrated Test Team conducted the first-ever operational testing of an Infra-Red Search and Track sensor pod to locate a target on, Apr. 7, 2022.

An F-15C Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon, both equipped with the Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod, used the IRST21 infrared sensor to detect the target. The multiplatform aircrafts were able to share that sensor data over the Legion pod’s Advanced Datalink passively triangulating the target position without the use of radar or other active ranging sources.

“IRST technology provides a key enabler in the long-range kill chain as well as the ability to locate targets in a multispectral domain,” said Lt Col. Jeremy Castor, Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force F-16 sensors program manager. “Any large-force scenario includes multiple aircraft types, each with different viewpoints of the battlespace. The ability to share data provides information to the warfighter they would not be able to get otherwise.”

The Legion Pod’s common interface allows integration onto any aircraft with minimal to no impact on the aircraft’s core software. This versatility opens the door for seamless integration with other fighter aircraft like the Air Force’s newest fighter, F-15EX.

“Our next step will be to explore the operationally relevant capabilities that IRST with an advanced datalink provides the warfighter,” said Castor. “The eventual goal is to provide this capability to anyone carrying an ADL Legion pod, regardless of platform.”

The first successful two-ship F-15 IRST ADL test occurred at Northern Edge in April 2021, with the first successful two-ship F-16 IRST ADL test occurring this past December 2021 at Eglin AFB. The successful completion of this F-15/F-16 Multi-Mission Design Series IRST test on April 7 marks a milestone event in the program’s ongoing progress.

The two-week combined test team event was led by a collaborative effort between the OFP CTF, the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, the 40th Flight Test Squadron, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, and the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center F-15C Eagle Division.

For more information, contact 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin, Public Affairs Advisor for the 53rd Wing at 850-598-3283 or

The 53rd Wing provides tactical advantage to the warfighter at the speed of relevance. By testing new operational capabilities and evaluating fielded capabilities, the 53rd Wing is bringing the future faster while answering the warfighter’s demands for integrated, multi-domain capabilities.