Lead-laser guidance tops Sniper targeting pod upgrade

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The US Air Force in May began fielding a new software load upgrade for its Lockheed Martin Sniper advanced targeting pods with the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. The development came in parallel with testing at its 85th Test and Evaluation Sqn at Eglin AFB, Florida.

Sniper version S3.5 includes lead-laser guidance, designed to help pilots automatically target and destroy a moving object. The system estimates the speed and direction of movement of the target, providing the pilot with its velocity on a cockpit display and automatically computing a lead on the object.

 
© Master Sgt Lance Cheung/US Air Force
The upgraded Sniper ATP now equips Seymour Johnson-based F-15Es

The pilot can also use the velocity information as a back-up to the automatic tracking and targeting option. The previous software upgrade, S3.0, included a fragmentation circle indicator in the cockpit and picture-in-picture capability that allows the pilot or crew member to keep an enhanced image up on a dedicated section of the display.

Other new functions for the S3.5 version include an image overlay feature that blends electro-optical and infrared images to help with identification of targets at night.

A compact multi-band datalink is also included to allow equipped ground forces to see the location of the aircraft and its video feed. Lockheed says the S3.5 upgrade will be incorporated into all Sniper pods once the evaluation is complete.