Singapore has bought a dozen
Sniper XR targeting pods, for about $2 million each (including training on use
and installation), to equip its F-15E fighter bombers. Delivery will begin this
year. These pods are all the rage with fighter pilots. And now the U.S. Air
Force is even installing Sniper XR targeting pods on some of its heavy bombers.
These pods contain FLIR (video quality night vision infrared radar) and TV
cameras that enable pilots flying at 20,000 feet to clearly make out what is
going on down there. 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. Safely outside the range of most anti-aircraft fire (five
kilometers up, and up to fifty kilometers away), pilots can literally see the
progress of ground fighting, and have even been acting as aerial observers for
ground forces. These new capabilities also enable pilots to more easily find
targets themselves, and hit them with highly accurate laser guided or JDAM
bombs. While bombers still get target information from ground controllers for
close (to friendly troops) air support, they can now go searching on their own,
in areas where there are no friendly ground troops.
pound pod hangs off a hard point, like a missile, bomb or fuel tank. Singapore is an island nation, and trains its
pilots to operate over open water. In this respect, Singapore will be exploring
how well these pods can operate against naval targets.
years ago, the first targeting pods (the U.S. two pod LANTIRN system) were
nearly ready for service. These first electronic targeting pods, that looked
like a thin bomb, were hung under the wing of fighters, and contained laser
designators and night vision equipment. The LANTIRN got a workout in the 1991
Gulf War, even though the system was still undergoing testing. Israel soon followed with a cheaper, more
reliable and more capable Litening system. American manufacturers then brought
out the Sniper XR pod. All this competition has made the pods (one pod is all
that is needed now) more capable, easier to use, more reliable and cheaper.
Pilots can either snag GPS coordinates for a smart bomb it is carrying, or use
a laser designator, to drop bombs with extreme accuracy.