Lockheed Martin‘s Sniper advanced targeting pod-sensor enhancement (ATP-SE) has achieved initial operational capability (IOC) and has been deployed to support the US Air Force’s (USAF) combat operations in theatre.
The enhanced configuration of legacy Sniper ATP is designed to provide USAF strike fighter and bomber aircraft with advanced modes for non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), improved combat identification, expanded air-to-air and maritime capability, and two-way data link communication.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control fixed wing programs director Ken Fuhr said the path to IOC involved collaboration between Lockheed and the air force to complete a two-year, six-platform ATP-SE test programme.
"Lockheed Martin also manufactured more than 100 Sniper ATP-SE pods and successfully trained squadrons to operate and maintain the system," Fuhr said.
"This significant achievement enables the US Air Force and Air National Guard to deploy Sniper ATP-SE worldwide on the A-10C, B-1, F-15E and F-16 Blocks 30, 40 and 50 for increased performance and situational awareness."
The new pod also features the Net-T capability that enables a point-to-multipoint networking architecture, and would offer operators and analysts beyond their line of sight access to real-time data, when used along with other platforms.
The pod was first installed onboard B-1 bombers of the 7th Bomb Wing (7 BW) stationed at Dyess Air Force Base, in Texas, US.
Lockheed won the USAF’s ATP-SE programme competition in 2010.
The contract also includes options, which if exercised, would bring Lockheed’s share of the programme to $1bn of the overall $2.3bn award for the procurement of up to 670 pods through 2017.
Designated as an AN/AAQ-33, the Sniper ATP helps pilots in positive target identification, autonomous tracking, coordinate generation, precise weapons guidance and non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (NTISR) in all weather conditions.
Image: A B-1 bomber fitted with the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod-Sensor Enhancement modification at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, US. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force Airman 1st Class Peter Thompson/Released.