B-1B #85-0075 from the 419th FLTS flies a test mission
over the Edwards range with the Lockheed built Sniper
Photo: USAF / Steve Zapka
2/23/2007 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 419th Flight
Test Squadron recently completed its initial developmental testing
of the Sniper pod installed on a B-1B Lancer here.
The Sniper pod, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is an advanced
targeting pod with multi-sensor capability and allows the operator
to positively identify targets.
Currently, the B-1 cannot positively identify targets without
additional aids such as other aircraft or personnel on the ground,
said Maj. Jacque Joffrion, 419th FLTS B-1 flight commander and
experimental test pilot.
The Sniper pod increases the aircraft's self-targeting capability,
"The positive target identification capability of the
targeting pod is what enhances reconnaissance and weapon employment
for the B-1," said Maj. Joshua Lane, 419th FLTS chief of
standardization and evaluation and experimental test weapon
system officer. "In addition, the targeting pod allows
the operator to see behind the aircraft for a 360-degree sensor
The B-1 provides a good platform for using the Sniper pod because
of its unique capabilities, Major Lane said. The B-1 carries
the largest and most diverse weapon payload of any U.S. aircraft
and can also loiter for extended lengths of time providing a
persistent presence to the battlefield.
The aircraft's combination of long loitering, positive target
identification and large payload gives warfighters a unique
asset to better support the war effort, he said.
The Sniper Pod can be seen mounted on the belly of 419th
FLTS B-1B #85-0075 while on a test mission 2/23/07
Photo: USAF / Steve Zapka
During the testing, the pod was attached to the left hand chin
of the aircraft using existing mounting points, Major Joffrion
said. The external attach points were initially designed to
allow the B-1 to carry cruise missiles externally. These hard
points were modified to attach the targeting pod through a pylon
The B-1 uses other connections and onboard equipment to communicate
with the Sniper pod, Major Lane said. To communicate with the
Sniper pod, power and control connections must be supplied from
the aircraft to the pod. The current design uses the conduit
from the hard points to route the required wiring to the pod
from the aircraft.
Inside the aircraft, aircrew control the pod using a hand controller
and notebook computer, Major Lane said. The pod provides a video
feed to the computer, while the hand controller connects to
the pod through an on-board Ethernet.
The 419th FLTS performed the third and final test of the Sniper
pod with GBU-31 and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition drops,
Major Lane said.
"The significance of this test was to complete the demonstration
of target identification and to provide post-strike bomb damage
assessment," Major Lane said. "This capability is
important for combat operations to provide near real-time feedback
strike assessment for theater commanders. During this sortie,
two initial looks of weapon separation characteristics were
also tested using the guided bomb units."
Before the pod can be put into service on the B-1, the 419th
FLTS must determine the aerodynamic interaction between the
pod and the aircraft, Major Joffrion said. Tests were completed
to determine if the pod would disrupt air flow that could result
in adverse weapon separation characteristics. These studies
were intended to provide future data for more in-depth weapon
separation tests under many more employment regimes, he said.
"The testing was an integrated demonstration designed
to provide a proof of concept pod for the B-1," Major Lane
said. "The initial demonstration was very successful and
shows promise for full integration onto the B-1 Bomber."
Source: USAF Edwards AFB Press Release by Senior Airman