Aerial Warfare

US State Department Approves Sale of AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod to Malaysia

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US State Department Approves Sale of AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod to Malaysia

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Royal Malaysian Air Force McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Hornet multirole fighter
Royal Malaysian Air Force McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Hornet multirole fighter

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Malaysia of Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods and related equipment for an estimated cost of $80 million. The Government of Malaysia has requested to buy ten (10) AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods. 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. Also included are technical data and publications; personnel training; software and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated total cost is $80 million.

The system has been designated AN/AAQ-33 in U.S. military service as the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP). This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the U.S.s by improving the security of a key partner that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific region. The proposed sale will improve Malaysia’s capability to meet current and future threats by modernizing its current F/A-18D platform with a common targeting pod. The Royal Malaysian Air Force will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces. The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Corporation, located in Orlando, FL, and The Boeing Company, located in St. Louis, MO.

Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod Successfully Integrates With Kuwait F-18 Super Hornet
AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod successfully integrates with Kuwait Air Force F-18 Super Hornet multirole fighter. (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

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 F-16, F-15, B-1B, CF-18, Harrier, A-10, B-52 and Tornado aircraft. 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 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is an all-weather supersonic, twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole combat aircraft, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft. The Royal Malaysian Air Force has eight F/A-18Ds. Delivery of the aircraft spanned from March 1997 to August 1997. Three Hornets together with five UK-made BAE Hawk 208 were deployed in a bombing airstrike on the “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo” terrorists on 5 March 2013, just before the joint forces of the Malaysian Army and Royal Malaysia Police commandos launched an all-out assault during Operation Daulat. The Hornets were tasked with close air support to the no-fly zone in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod
AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod. (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

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