Turkey is buying 30 Sniper
targeting pods and 30 LANTIRN Extended Range Navigation Pods. These will
probably be used on F-16s sent after Kurdish separatist rebel bases in northern
Iraq and eastern Turkey. The LANTRIN pod enables the aircraft to fly low in all
weather. The Sniper pod allows the aircraft to find targets for the smart bombs
Turkey has been using lately.
also be using the new two-way video data link available for the Sniper
targeting pod. This enables troops on the ground to see what the pilot is
seeing, and mark items for the pilot in real time. This is particularly
critical for situations where the ground level view is more accurate, and this
eliminates any confusion over what the troops want a smart bomb to hit. This
minimizes the risk of friendly fire losses (including innocent civilians), and
makes it more certain that the enemy will be hit when the ground troops expect
it. This is critical because the troops like to be on a bombed target as
quickly as possible, to deal with any enemy survivors, and to capture any
documents before those survivors can destroy them.
pods contain FLIR (video quality night vision infrared radar) and TV cameras
that enable pilots flying at 20,000 feet to clearly make out what is going on
down there. The pods also contain laser designators for laser guided bombs, and
laser range finders that enable pilots to get coordinates for JDAM (GPS guided)
bombs. Safely outside the range of most anti-aircraft fire (five kilometers up,
and up to fifty kilometers away), pilots can literally see the progress of
ground fighting, and have even been acting as aerial observers for ground
forces. These new capabilities also enable pilots to more easily find targets
themselves, and hit them with highly accurate laser guided or JDAM bombs. While
bombers still get target information from ground controllers for close (to
friendly troops) air support, they can now go searching on their own, in areas
where there are no friendly ground troops. With the two way communication, the
pilots can remain aware of how the friendly troops are moving around there.
pods, and smart bombs, have revolutionized the way warplanes support ground
troops. The accuracy of the laser or GPS guided bombs greatly reduces friendly
fire losses, and makes the bomber much deadlier. Basically, one bomb takes out
one target. Previously, a fighter-bomber had to come in low and slow, to drop
several dumb bombs with much less accuracy. Often, friendly troops were hit.
The new targeting pods make the bomber much more effective, in ways no one
believed possible two decades ago.
pods are currently used on the F-15E, F-16, F-18, A-10, B-1, and Harrier