Combat-Proven Sniper® Pod Reimagined For 21st Century Security
The networked battlespace will run on information, much of it shared by aircraft sensor systems that detect and target threats.
That’s why Lockheed Martin engineers are working to give U.S. and allied forces a head start by turning the world’s most combat-proven targeting system into an airborne communication and computing node.
With new radio and data-sharing technology, the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) could become a key player in joint all-domain command and control. One early goal: Enable instant data-sharing between so-called legacy aircraft equipped with pods and fifth-generation fighters.
“We’re moving quickly to adapt to a rapidly evolving customer demand,” said Tina Frazer, chief engineer for the Sniper ATP program in Orlando, Florida. Demonstration flights could start as early as 2023.
Lockheed Martin’s investment in Sniper ATP is part of the company’s vision for 21st Century Security, which calls for integrating networking capabilities and edge computing across the aircraft, sensor pods and weapon systems it produces. That includes connecting legacy and future systems with technology that share information at 5G speeds.
Upgrading Sniper also is a response to U.S. allies seeking solutions to keep their fleets of F-16 and other fourth-generation fighters ready and capable in an increasingly complex and digital environment.
“The F-16 is a critical piece of 21st century security,” said Danya Trent, Vice President of Aero F-16 Programs. “The One Team approach to leverage its interoperability and capability as a communications and computing node to support joint all-domain operations will help keep our customers and their fleets ahead of ready,”
Besides other fighters, the upgraded Sniper pod could soon share targeting and reconnaissance data with uncrewed aircraft, ground-control stations, Navy vessels or even satellites.
4 Million Operational Hours
Sniper ATP emerged as a prime candidate for networking due to its modular design, planned adoption of open architecture, and customer trust in the system. Lockheed Martin delivered more than 1,600 Sniper pods to U.S. and allied air forces that have put them through more than four million operational hours around the globe.
Digital engineering techniques are accelerating design adjustments needed for integration onto a variety of aircraft, Frazer said.
During Sniper’s’ 20 years in the field, Lockheed Martin has continuously advanced the targeting system’s unique ability to stealthily target objects at a long-range. That capability is why Sniper is a workhorse for the U.S. Air Force, completing hundreds of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It’s proven, and we’re going to continue to improve it and produce it,” said John Rogers, Director of International Sniper Programs
Next 40 Years
The electro-optical targeting system provides precision targeting, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for air-to-air and air-to-ground missions over land and sea. It is the world’s most widely integrated targeting system, having proven itself on multinational F-2, F-15, F-16, F-18, Harrier, Typhoon, Rafale and Mirage fighters as well as B-1 and B-52 bombers.
Updating technology inside a self-contained, “plug-and-play” pod like Sniper ATP lets users quickly add capabilities as threats evolve without making disruptive changes to aircraft electronics systems.
“Advanced fourth-generation fighter planes, like the F-16, will be in service around the world for at least the next 40 years,” Rogers said. “That’s why we continue to cut-in new features and resolve obsolescence issues, and that’s not going to stop.”
Sniper is a registered trademark of Lockheed Martin Corporation.