June 21, 2006:
The U.S. Navy is equipping its S-3 patrol aircraft with Lantirn targeting pods. The navy isn't turning the S-3's into bombers, but more effective patrol aircraft. The S-3 was originally designed as an anti-submarine aircraft, and served in that capacity from it's introduction in the mid 1970s, to the late 1990s. The end of the Cold War ended most of the submarine threat, and since 1999, the S-3 has served as a patrol aircraft, and aerial tanker. In the next decade, the S-3 will be retired, and replaced (for patrol and taker duties) by F-18F aircraft. But for now, the S-3, with the long range (ten hours per sortie), day/night video capability of the Lantirn, make it a much more effective maritime patrol aircraft. The Lantirn pod costs two million dollars, and is hung off a hard point like a bomb or fuel tank.