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Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod

A Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod hangs from the underbelly of a B-1B Lancer
Sniper pod

The Lockheed Martin Sniper is a targeting pod for military aircraft that provides positive target identification, autonomous tracking, GPS coordinate generation, and precise weapons guidance from extended standoff ranges.

The system has been designated AN/AAQ-33 in U.S. military service as the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP). Further variants are the Sniper Extended Range (XR), as well as the PANTERA export derivative of the Sniper XR. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is built with the equivalent of the Sniper XR in its onboard sensors.[1] The most modern version is the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod - Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE).

Contents

DesignEdit

 
An F-15E Strike Eagle carrying a Sniper pod (under engine intake).

The Sniper is a single, lightweight targeting pod with much lower aerodynamic drag than the systems it replaces[citation needed]. Its image processing allows aircrews to detect, identify and engage tactical-size targets outside the range of most enemy air defenses, giving it a crucial role in the destruction of enemy air defense missions. It also supports urban engagements beyond jet noise range for counter-insurgency operations. It offers a 3-5X increase in detection range over the older LANTIRN system[citation needed], and is currently flying on U.S. Air Force and multinational F-16, F-15, B-1B, CF-18, Harrier, A-10, B-52 and Tornado aircraft.

The pod incorporates a high definition mid-wave FLIR, dual-mode laser, visible-light HDTV, laser spot tracker, laser marker, video data link, and a digital data recorder.[2] Advanced sensors and image processing incorporating image stabilization enable targets to be identified at ranges which minimize exposure to defensive enemy systems. The dual-mode laser offers an eye-safe mode for urban combat and training operations along with a laser-guided bomb designation laser.

The pod's FLIR allows observation and tracking through smoke and clouds, and in low light / no light conditions. The CCD camera supports the same operations in visible light for most daylight conditions. However, the Sniper came under fire in 2014 in the aftermath of a deadly airstrike in Afghanistan that saw five American and one Afghan soldier killed when a B-1B bomber equipped with the pod could not detect the infrared strobe lights on the helmets of U.S. troops in a firefight, resulting in the deadliest case of friendly fire between American forces in the course of the Afghanistan War.[3]

For target coordination with ground and air forces, a laser spot tracker, a laser marker, and an HDTV quality video down-link to ground-based controllers supports rapid target detection and identification. The Sniper can also provide high-resolution imagery for non-traditional Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (NTISR) missions without occupying the centerline station on small fighter aircraft, and can maintain surveillance even when the aircraft maneuvers. As a result, a second, dedicated fighter aircraft isn't needed to provide protection to a dedicated ISR aircraft, which many small nations cannot afford.[4]

For ease of maintenance, Sniper's optical bed design, partitioning, and diagnostic capabilities permit two-level maintenance, eliminating costly intermediate-level support. Automated built-in testing allows maintenance personnel to isolate and replace a line replaceable unit in under 20 minutes to restore full mission-capable status.

In useEdit

 
A B-1B Lancer carrying the Sniper pod.

In August 2001, the U.S. Air Force announced Lockheed Martin's Sniper as the winner of the Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) competition. The contract provides for pods and associated equipment, spares and support of the F-16 and F-15E aircraft for the entire force, active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard. The U.S. Air Force initial seven-year contract for Sniper ATP has potential value in excess of $843 million. The Sniper ATP has delivered over 125 pods and the U.S. Air Force plans to procure at least 522 Sniper ATPs. The follow-on Advanced Targeting Pod - Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) contract was split between the Lockheed Martin Sniper and the LITENING.

In 2014, the USAF declared initial operational capability for the Sniper ATP-SE which included sensor and networking improvements.[5]

The Sniper is used on the U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress,[6] B-1B Lancer, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and A-10 Thunderbolt II. It was also used on the British Harrier GR9[7] and the Canadian CF-18 Hornet,[8] as well as being in service with Norway, Oman, Poland, Pakistan,[9] Singapore, Canada, Belgium, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Thailand.[10][11][12]

A team of Lockheed Martin UK, BAE Systems and SELEX Galileo (formerly Selex S&AS) has successfully demonstrated and flown a Sniper ATP on board a Tornado GR4 combat aircraft.[13]

On 27 March 2015, Lockheed Martin was awarded a sole-source contract by the US DOD worth $485 million firm fixed price with minimal cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity to provide multiple Sniper advanced targeting pods to the USAF.[14]

In 2016 Lockheed Martin announced that Kuwait would be the first country to use Sniper on the Eurofighter.[15]

OperatorsEdit

SpecificationsEdit

  • Primary function: Positive identification, automatic tracking and laser designation[19]
  • Prime contractor: Lockheed Martin[19]
  • Length: 98.2 inches (252 centimeters)[19]
  • Diameter: 11.9 inches (30.5 centimeters)[19]
  • Weight: 446 pounds (202 kilograms)[19]
  • Aircraft: F-15 models C/E, F-16 Block 15/30/40/50, A-10, B-1, B-52, CF-18, Harrier, Tornado[19]
  • Sensors: Mid-wave third generation Forward looking infrared, dual mode eye-safe, laser designator, Charge-coupled device-TV, laser spot tracker and laser designator[19]
  • Date deployed: January 2005[19]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Newest U.S. Stealth Fighter '10 Years Behind' Older Jets".
  2. ^ "Sniper Pod > U.S. Air Force > Fact Sheet Display".
  3. ^ "Investigation: Friendly fire airstrike that killed U.S. Special Forces was avoidable". Washington Post. 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  4. ^ "Sniper ATP: Feature Stories · Lockheed Martin".
  5. ^ "U.S. Air Force Declares Initial Operational Capability for Lockheed Martin's Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod – Sensor Enhancement". www.lockheedmartin.com. Lockheed Martin. 17 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  6. ^ (22 September 2015) Sniper Pod Archived 2017-12-01 at the Wayback Machine. accessdate=2017-11-28
  7. ^ "SNIPER CONTRACT A HIT FOR UK HARRIER".
  8. ^ Harrington, Caitlin (March 16, 2009), Jane's Missing or empty |title= (help)[full citation needed]
  9. ^ "Lockheed Martin To Supply ATP's for Pakistan Air Force F-16s - India Defence". Archived from the original on 2007-05-17.
  10. ^ "Saudis Seek Sniper ATP Supplementation for F-15S".
  11. ^ "LOCKHEED MARTIN'S SNIPER XR ADVANCED TARGETING POD TEAM CHOSEN BY AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY AS 2004 LAURELS HONOREE".[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Belgian Air Force buys eight Sniper XR targeting pods".
  13. ^ "Lockheed Martin uk demonstrates Sniper advanced targeting pod on board tornado gr4". Archived from the original on 2008-05-31.
  14. ^ Pike, John. "Sniper XR ATP - Advanced Targeting Pod - Smart Weapons".
  15. ^ "Lockheed Martin Sniper Targeting Pods For Kuwaiti Eurofighter Typhoons". www.defenseworld.net. Defense World. 28 September 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  16. ^ "航空自衛隊:ターゲティング・ポッドの機種決定について". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27.
  17. ^ "Lockheed's global arms sales boosted: Lockheed's global arms sales buoyed by deals with Jordan, Finland".
  18. ^ "ROMANIA AND THAILAND (FMS) SNIPER ADVANCED TARGETING PODS (ATP) - Federal Business Opportunities: Opportunities".
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h "Locheed Martin Sniper pdf file" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-14.

External linksEdit