Kuwait F-18 Super Hornet gets Lockheed Martin’s Sniper ATP

An F/A-18E/F Super Hornet of the Kuwait Air Force has flown its first flight test integrating Lockheed Martin’s Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP).

The test flight was conducted by Lockheed Martin in conjunction with the US Navy.

To verify the mechanics of the system, flight testing with a non-operational Sniper ATP was conducted at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland in March 2021.

Subsequently, flight-testing with an operational Sniper ATP was conducted at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California in March 2021.

Both first flight tests were successful.

Precise system

Designed for precision targeting and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Sniper ATP is a proven electro-optical targeting system housed in a single, lightweight pod.

The system handles the most challenging precision targeting and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) air-to-air and air-to-ground missions in the land, sea, and air domains.

Sniper ATP is interoperable across multiple combat aircraft platforms, including US Air Force and multinational F-2, F-15, F-16, F-18, A-10, B-1, B-52, Harrier and Typhoon aircraft.

Lockheed Martin
Sniper ATP is an electro-optical targeting system housed in a single, lightweight pod. Credit: Lockheed Martin

According to Lockheed Martin Sniper ATP is located on Weapon Station 5, an area on the aircraft where pods or weapons attach and is expected to be fielded with the aircraft in late 2023.

This integration gives existing and future Super Hornet fleets the ability to add Sniper ATP’s precision targeting and surveillance capabilities, which are critical to pilot survivability.

Kenen Nelson, Director of Fixed Wing Sensor Programmes at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control, said: “Integrating Sniper ATP onto Weapon Station 5, brings state-of-the-art tracking algorithms, two-way-data-link, and many other capabilities to the Kuwait F/A-18E/F crews that will positively impact the overall success of their missions.

“This also means that all F/A-18E/F customers will have the option of a reliable, easily maintainable and modern targeting pod.”

Currently, Sniper ATP flies on both the Kuwait F/A-18C/D and Canadian CF-18 Hornets.

Lockheed Martin maintains that as the Kuwait Air Force transitions to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, they will benefit by receiving the new capabilities that the latest Sniper ATP configuration provides to the Super Hornet fleet.

Global rollout

There are currently more than 27 countries and 15 different types of combat aircraft operating with the platform-agnostic Sniper ATP.

Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 1,500 Sniper ATP pods worldwide.

Key features of the Sniper ATP include: Industry leading passive detection, tracking, and ranging for air-to-air and air-to-surface targets, high-definition sensors, laser spot tracker, ability to deliver laser energy to accurately support laser-guided weapons against moving targets, laser designator with aircrew selectable tactical and eye-safe wavelengths, two-way full-motion video datalink with metadata, digital data recorder, extended range precision geo-coordinate generation and Global Scope advanced sensor software suite for ISR, video and metadata playback, advanced scene visualisation and point of interest planning.

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