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Legion Pod reaches two flight milestones

Legion Pod

An F-15C Eagle from the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron on the ramp prior to launching an AIM-9X missile using the Legion Pod. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt John McRell)

Legion Pod

An F-16 Fighting Falcon, piloted by Lt. Col. Jeremy Castor, 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, takes flight on its first ever flight with the Legion Pod. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt Savanah Bray)

Legion Pod

An F-15C Eagle from the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron on the ramp prior to launching an AIM-9X missile using the Legion Pod. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John McRell)

Legion Pod

An F-16 Fighting Falcon, piloted by Lt. Col. Jeremy Castor, 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, takes flight on its first ever flight with the Legion Pod. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt Savanah Bray)

Legion Pod

An F-16 Fighting Falcon, piloted by Lt. Col. Jeremy Castor, 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, takes flight on its first ever flight with the Legion Pod. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John McRell)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

An infrared search and tracking pod, known as the Legion Pod, recently passed two milestones in two different Air Force fighter aircraft here.

The first milestone came July 8 when an F15C Eagle fired an AIM-9X missile using the pod.  The second milestone came five days later when an F16 Fighting Falcon flew its first-ever operational flight carrying the new system.

“Both the F-15C and F-16 teams have been doing phenomenal work under difficult conditions to rapidly field this new capability,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Moser, commander, Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force.

The Legion Pod’s capabilities provide a pilot another sensor integrated with the aircraft and builds a more complete picture of the battlespace.  With the use of the infrared ability, it is able to identify, track and shoot enemy aircraft in a radar jamming environment, to include stealth aircraft that a traditional radar may not see.

The pod’s progress was different from traditional acquisitions methods, according to Moser.  The pre-developmental test phase began in early 2019.  The unit completed 80% of the testing needed before entering into the official developmental test phase.  This sped up the developmental and operational testing considerably. 

“What would normally take several years has been reduced to 18 months from the start of DT to expected fielding,” said Moser.

The pod’s testing is managed by the OFP CTF, a joint 53rd Wing and 96th Test Wing unit here.

“These milestones are just one shining example of the synergies that can be achieved in a dual-MAJCOM (major command) unit that conducts integrated test management with a focus on the warfighter.”