October 4, 2004 (by Eric L. Palmer) - Aviation Week And Space Technology has an excellent article about detailed SNIPER-XR pod use. The SNIPER being one of the latest generation laser designator and sensor pods available for the F-16.
This article gives you a great review of some of the pods outstanding ability. It also highlights an even more increased contempt of engagement of whole families of ground-to-air threats common with these systems which enables a user to hit targets and not be touched by small SAMs (surface-to-air missiles), MANPAD's (man-portable air defense) AAA
(anti-aircraft airtillery) and trashfire (small arms fire).
The article talks about the improved sensor ability of the pod and ease of use. Some quotes include:
- "During my mid-afternoon flight with 416th FLTS test pilot Maj. Hank "Hog" Griffiths, the Sniper-XR FLIR routinely produced cockpit-display images that rivaled a black-and-white photograph. Thermal imagery was automatically enhanced by proprietary image-processing algorithms, and both optical and electronic zoom options allowed us to detect, identify, track and target fixed and moving objects at ranges up to 86 naut. mi.
- I'd rate the workload as comparable or almost better [than that of LANTIRN], because [SNIPER] has the autofocus and FLIR-calibration features. I'm not messing with a lot of different things," Griffiths said. "
Just as important in the future: SNIPER-XR fits in with the NCW (net-centric warfare) way of doing business. Where the sensor, shooter and decision maker are all on the same network. SNIPER-XR generated images can be thrown on the network to be handed off to a decision maker or another shooter. Maybe not stressed enough in the article is how the SNIPER-XR will greatly enhance setting up targets of opportunity for "J weapons" like the JDAM
by helping produce coordinates which can be uploaded into the JDAM hanging on the host aircraft... or hand off the coordinate to another shooter in an NCW environment. Pods like SNIPER-XR add a lot of ability to an airframe while not costing a lot of money in the process.