The US State Department agreed the sale to Poland of 34 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods (ATP), to be fitted to FA-50 fighters Poland is buying from South Korea.

The contract with Lockheed Martin for the advanced targeting and sensor system has an estimated cost of $124.7m, according to a Defense Security Cooperations Agency release from 9 May.

Sniper ATP is an electro-optical targeting system housed in a single pod, charged with handling challenging precision targeting, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, in air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, over land and sea. It features high definition sensors and a laser spot tracker, and can accurately support laser guided weapons and GPS guided weapons against multiple fixed and moving targets. The system should enable the FA-50 to identify targets, track and engage them from a standoff distance, and increase operability with Poland’s Nato allies.

The release stated that the sale with “support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO Ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe,” referring to Poland’s status as a major contributor of support to Ukraine in its war with Russia. The release went on to say that the proposed sale of the Sniper ATP will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

Sniper ATP through its integration with the FA-50

Lockheed Martin has previously delivered the Sniper ATP to Poland, along with Belgium, Norway, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the Netherlands and Turkey, as part of a US Air Force foreign military sales contract in 2016 for $499m, for installation across multiple platforms, although the FA-50 was not then certified to receive the system.

The Sniper ATP completed its first successful fit check with South Korea’s FA-50 fighter in September 2019, verifying the engineering, physical connections and interfaces, before completing ground and flight testing in January 2021, paving the way for the full certification that was initially expected at the end of 2020.

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South Korea has become a major source of arms for Poland over the last year of conflict to on Nato’s Eastern flank. The FA-50’s South Korea has supplied are among a series of orders for platforms and munitions to Poland that have been arranged on unprecedented scale, backfilling inventory that the Nato partner is supplying to its neighbour, Ukraine. South Korea has exported $12.4bn in arms to Poland since the full-scale invasion began, originally with the caveat that these supplies would not find their way to Ukraine.