Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) is the most widely deployed targeting system for fixed-wing aircraft in use by U.S. forces and is also the targeting system of choice for many international allies across multiple platforms. Sniper ATP provides pilots high-resolution imagery for precision targeting and non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It detects, identifies, automatically tracks and laser-designates small tactical targets at long ranges and supports employment of laser- and GPS-guided weapons against multiple fixed and moving targets.
The Lockheed Martin Sniper is a targeting pod for military aircraft that provides positive target identification, autonomous tracking, GPS coordinate generation, and precise weapons guidance from extended standoff ranges.
The system has been designated AN/AAQ-33 in U.S. Military Service as the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP). Further variants are the Sniper Extended Range (XR), as well as the PANTERA export derivative of the Sniper XR. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is built with the equivalent of the Sniper XR in its onboard sensors. The most modern version is the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod – Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE).
The Sniper is a single, lightweight targeting pod with much lower aerodynamic drag than the systems it replaces. Its image processing allows aircrews to detect, identify and engage tactical-size targets outside the range of most enemy air defenses, giving it a crucial role in the destruction of enemy air defense missions. It also supports urban engagements beyond jet noise range for counter-insurgency operations. It offers a 3-5X increase in detection range over the older LANTIRN system, and is currently flying on U.S. Air Force and multinational F-16, F-15, B-1B, CF-18, Harrier, A-10, B-52 and Tornado aircraft.
The pod incorporates a high definition mid-wave FLIR, dual-mode laser, visible-light HDTV, laser spot tracker, laser marker, video data link, and a digital data recorder. Advanced sensors and image processing incorporating image stabilization enable targets to be identified at ranges which minimize exposure to defensive enemy systems. The dual-mode laser offers an eye-safe mode for urban combat and training operations along with a laser-guided bomb designation laser.
The pod’s FLIR allows observation and tracking through smoke and clouds, and in low light / no light conditions. The CCD camera supports the same operations in visible light for most daylight conditions.
For target coordination with ground and air forces, a laser spot tracker, a laser marker, and an HDTV quality video down-link to ground-based controllers supports rapid target detection and identification. The Sniper can also provide high-resolution imagery for non-traditional Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (NTISR) missions without taking up the centerline station on small fighter aircraft, and can maintain surveillance even when the aircraft maneuvers. As a result a second, dedicated fighter aircraft isn’t needed to provide protection to a dedicated ISR aircraft, which many small nations cannot afford.
For ease of maintenance, Sniper’s optical bed design, partitioning, and diagnostic capabilities permit two-level maintenance, eliminating costly intermediate-level support. Automated built-in testing allows maintenance personnel to isolate and replace a line replaceable unit in under 20 minutes to restore full mission-capable status.