Electronic Weapons: Heavy Bombers Pile On The Pods

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July 9, 2014: The U.S. Air Force recently devoted four weeks to figuring out how to mount an AN/ASQ-236 Radar Pod on a B-52. This 454 kg (1,000 pound) pod was introduced in 2009 for use on F-15E fighter-bombers. It used a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) system that can cover a large area or focus on a smaller area and then provide photo quality images. This enables a B-52, which can stay in the air longer than an F-15E and carry more bombs, to get a good idea what is down below in any weather and even through sand storms. The SAR can monitor traffic in thinly populated areas (as in Afghanistan or the Middle East) and quickly deliver a smart bomb when needed.

The B-52 has already obtained targeting pods used by many fighters for ground attack and that was a success. The pods, packed with electronics and sensors, are very popular with fighter pilots, mainly because they contain FLIR (video quality night vision infrared radar) and TV cameras that enable pilots flying at 6,200 meters (20,000 feet) to clearly make out what is going on down on the ground. The pods also contain laser designators for laser guided bombs and laser range finders that enable pilots to get coordinates for JDAM (GPS guided) bombs. The pods have been around since the early 1990s but heavy bombers only started getting them in 2007.

 

 

 


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