Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Officials Adapt Sniper Pod for B-1Bs

The B-1B Lancer maintainers here adapted a video targeting pod normally employed on F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons to B-1Bs in response to an urgent request from U.S. Air Forces Central officials. The sniper pod enables aircrews to positively identify and engage enemy targets, significantly shortening the time it would take to kill a target. The B-1B community at Tinker Air Force Base used the B-1B Laptop Controlled Targeting Pod program, adapting the sniper pod to the B-1B by installing an external pylon and using an existing on-board laptop computer to control the pod and provide video image to the crew on board. The new system allows aircrews to look ahead with long-range video and see what is happening on the ground. It is a stabilized image and allows them to use a laser beam to target and engage in real time. It also allows aircrews to give their own bomb damage assessment and report back immediately on whether they hit their target or not. The pod shortens the kill chain from several minutes to almost instantly, said 2nd Lt. Douglas Richardson, a B-1B avionics engineer with the 427th Aircraft Sustainment Group."That's a great capability, especially in Afghanistan where we're having troops in close contact," Lieutenant Richardson said. "They can call the B-1B and the B-1B can see exactly what's going on and target the enemy forces in seconds." Before the integration of the sniper pod, crews had used high resolution radar which is perfect for buildings but doesn't see a lot of "soft" images. With the new pod, aircrews can now see exactly what's going on and can see things more clearly. Since it was a new developmental program for the B-1B, the Laptop Controlled Targeting Pod program was managed by Ed England of the 812th Aeronautical System Group at the Aeronautical System Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Officials of the 812th AESG are responsible for managing all new B-1B development programs. The 427th ACSG members helped when requested to get the pod fielded on time to support the recent deployment of aircraft from one of the B-1B main operating bases to a forward operating location. "In 24 months this machine was fielded and developed for the B-1B and we just had the first combat use recently," Lieutenant Richardson said. "The use of the pod was deemed very successful." Although a targeting pod was mounted on the aircraft and it worked well during testing, the B-1B maintenance personnel and aircrews were training with the pod at their main operating base since the system was new. The field service engineers were provided from Tinker AFB for the support of the deployment effort.

blog counter