The most important upgrade is long-range IRST system—which is designed to be a counter-stealth sensor, Gillian said. The Navy considers this essential to countering new enemy stealth aircraft such as the Chinese J-20 and Russian PAK-FA. Gillian added that Boeing and Navy solved many of the traditional issues associated with infrared sensors—but didn’t go into detail. Company officials have previously said the new IRST is able to derive accurate range data—enough to cue weapons.
The new Block III adds a new computer, new large-area cockpit display, a high-band width Tactical Targeting Network Technologies (TTNT) datalink, a new fuel tank-mounted long-wave infrared search and track system (IRST) and new integrated defensive electronic countermeasure Block IV suite.