Douglas Barrie/LONDON

The Singaporean air force is on the brink of awarding a deal to Lockheed Martin for up to 30 Sharpshooter laser designator pods. The selection of the US system follows a prolonged procurement battle against UK and Israeli rivals.

The Singaporeans and Lockheed Martin have been finalising the contract for the past six weeks. Lockheed's Sharpshooter beat off competition from Rafael's Litening and GEC-Marconi's Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator (TIALD) targeting pods.

The order will be split into at least two purchases, say sources. The first batch could amount to around 20 pods, with a further batch of ten being supplied later.

Initially the Singaporean air force had intended the primary platform for the Sharpshooter to be the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, but focus has now shifted on to the Lockheed Martin F-16D.

The air force has already procured the Lockheed Martin Pathfinder navigation pod which, like the Sharpshooter, is derived from Lockheed Martin's Low-Altitude Navigational Targeting Infra-Red for Night (LANTIRN) multi-sensor system.

The air force plans to use the laser designation pod initially in conjunction with Texas Instruments' Paveway II laser-guided bomb. The air force would also like to acquire the Paveway III guided bomb, which provides an improved standoff attack capability. The Paveway III, however, has not yet been approved for release to Singapore by the US Government.

Source: Flight International