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A Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod hangs from the underbelly of a B-1B Lancer

Sniper pod

The Lockheed Martin Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP), designated AN/AAQ-33 in U.S. Military Service, provides positive target identification, autonomous tracking, coordinate generation, and precise weapons guidance from extended standoff ranges. The Sniper ATP is used on the F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, B-1 (Rod Pod), UK Harrier GR9,[1] and Canadian CF-18 Hornet.[2] The Sniper ATP is in service with Norway, Oman, Poland, Singapore, Canada, Belgium, Turkey, Saudi Arabia[3] and the UK MoD.[4][5] In July 2007, Sniper ATP was acquired by Pakistan, making it the tenth country in the world to be in possession of the Sniper pod.[6] The Sniper ATP contains a laser designator and tracker for guiding laser-guided bombs. The pod also features a third-generation FLIR receiver and a CCD television camera. FLIR allows observation and tracking in low light / no light situations, while the CCD camera allows the same functions during day time operations. A team of Lockheed Martin UK, BAE Systems and SELEX Galileo (formerly Selex S&AS) has successfully demonstrated and flown a Sniper ATP on board a Tornado GR4 combat aircraft.[7]

The U.S. Air Force initial seven-year contract for Sniper ATP has potential value in excess of $843 million. The Sniper ATP has delivered over 125 pods and the U.S. Air Force plans to procure at least 522 Sniper ATPs.

PANTERA is the export equivalent to the Lockheed Martin Sniper Extended Range (XR) targeting pod. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is built with the equivalent of the Sniper XR in its onboard sensors.


A B-1B Lancer carrying the Sniper pod.

In August 2001, the U.S. Air Force announced Lockheed Martin's Sniper as the winner of the ATP competition. The contract provides for pods and associated equipment, spares, and support of the F-16 and F-15E aircraft for the total force, active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard. Follow-on acquisitions are expected for the A-10 and B-1.


An F-15E Strike Eagle carrying a Sniper pod (under engine intake).

The Sniper ATP is a single, lightweight pod with much lower aerodynamic drag than the legacy systems it replaces. The Sniper possesses advanced targeting technology and its image processing allows aircrews to detect and identify tactical-size targets outside threat rings for the destruction of enemy air defense mission, as well as outside jet noise ranges for urban counter-insurgency operations. It offers a 3-5 times increase in detection range over the legacy LANTIRN system. It is currently flying on the U.S. Air Force and multinational F-16, F-15, B-1, CF-18, Harrier, A-10, B-52 and Tornado aircraft. The Sniper ATP incorporates a multi-spectral sensor capability with a high-resolution, mid-wave third-generation FLIR and a CCD-TV. Advanced sensors, combined with advanced image processing algorithms and rock-steady stabilization produce target identification ranges that permit operations minimizing exposure to many threat systems. The dual-mode laser offers an eye safe mode for urban combat and training operations, along with a laser-guided bomb designation laser for guiding in these precision munitions. For target coordination with ground and air forces, a laser spot tracker, a laser marker, and a TV quality video down link to joint terminal air controllers improve rapid target detection / identification. Sniper ATP provides high-resolution imagery highly sought after for the non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission. Sniper ATP is the only targeting pod being used in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom on F-16s and F-15Es.

For ease of maintenance, Sniper ATP's revolutionary optical bed design, optimal partitioning, and diagnostic capabilities permit true two-level maintenance, eliminating costly intermediate-level support. Automated built-in test permits a flightline maintainer to isolate and replace an LRU in under 20 minutes to get the pod back up to full mission capable status.


 Saudi Arabia


  • Primary Function: Positive identification, automatic tracking and laser designation
  • Prime Contractor: Lockheed Martin
  • Length: 94 inches (239 centimeters)
  • Diameter: 11.9 inches (30 centimeters)
  • Weight: 440 pounds (199 kilograms)
  • Aircraft: F-15E, F-16 Block 30/40/50, A-10, B-1, CF-18, B-52, Harrier, Tornado
  • Sensors: Mid-wave third generation FLIR, dual mode eye-safe, laser designator, CCD-TV, laser spot tracker and laser marker
  • Date Deployed: January 2005
  • Inventory: Not available.

*Competitive Device: Northrop Grumman Corporation LITENING targeting pod

See also

Similar devices


External links

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