THE US AIR FORCE IS seeking funds to equip Air National Guard (ANG) Lockheed Martin F-16Cs with a reconnaissance pod under the theatre airborne-reconnaissance system (TARS) programme. It wants 20 pods and five ground stations, with initial deployment of four pods and one ground station required within a year of contract award.

With the retirement of USAF McDonnell Douglas RF-4Cs, the manned tactical-reconnaissance mission is to be transferred to ANG F-16s. In April 1995, Lockheed Martin provided a reconnaissance pod to the Virginia ANG for evaluation. This was followed by an order for four production pods for an operational demonstration beginning in September 1995.

The programme has been opened to competition. Lockheed Martin is expected to bid, as is Denmark's Per Udsen, which is flight-testing an F-16 reconnaissance pod. F-16s will not be dedicated to the reconnaissance mission. The ANG is to equip six squadrons with four pods each.

Source: Flight International