The Lockheed Martin Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod is set to be cleared for use aboard the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 light attack jet.
South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration is poised to provide an airworthiness certificate for the sensor, but the coronavirus pandemic means the certification committee will only meet to discuss the integration in late February, FlightGlobal understands.
KAI had a contract with Lockheed under which two Sniper pods were provided for flight and ground testing in October 2020. Both pods were returned after the work.
Apparently the work went well, and no issues are foreseen in gaining the airworthiness certificate. Images posted by KAI show the Sniper pod mounted on the centreline station of a T-50 testbed – the FA-50 is the most advanced variant of the T-50 advanced jet trainer.
Sniper pod integration aboard the FA-50 has long been an objective for KAI. At the Seoul ADEX show in October 2019, the company told FlightGlobal that the integration would take place by the end of 2020.
The Sniper pod will greatly increase the FA-50’s passive detection capabilities against a range of targets. In addition to performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, the sensor can be used to designate targets, including moving vehicles.
The Sniper pod development follows news in December 2020 that Cobham Mission Systems will provide an inflight refuelling probe for the FA-50.
Announcing its selection as prime contractor for the modification on 2 December 2020, the UK company said it will “design, develop and qualify a telescopic probe solution” for the single-engined type.
Enabling the FA-50 to undergo inflight refuelling behind hose and drogue-equipped tankers is aimed at “enhancing the aircraft’s operational flexibility and interoperability”, it said.
The T-50 advanced jet trainer and FA-50 have been broadly adopted by the Republic of Korea Air Force, and have won sales in Indonesia, Iraq, the Philippines and Thailand.