On target

Boeing has successfully demonstrated the use of an electro-optical/infrared targeting pod on a B-1 bomber, increasing the aircraft’s ability to minimise ground threats and halt an advancing enemy.

Configured with a Sniper XR electro-optical/infrared targeting pod manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the B-1 crew completed more than 40 test conditions in approximately eight hours on January 19 over the Mojave Desert in California. The demonstration validated the B-1 crew’s ability to positively identify moving and stationary targets in a variety of real-world conditions.

Mounted on an external pylon below the cockpit, the targeting pod allowed the flight crews to track moving vehicles day and night, in crowded and clear conditions. The sensor is said to have detected large and small vehicles at different ranges and angles and maintained its track even when the target vehicle passed other vehicles.

‘Included in the flight tests were tanker rendezvous and refuelling, which further emphasised the aircraft’s ability to loiter for extended periods,’ said Greg Burton, Boeing B-1/B-2 program director.

Images and data from the sensor were displayed in the weapons systems operator stations in the back seat of the aircraft and at the pilot/co-pilot station. During the demonstration flight, the pod also transmitted video images to the control room, enabling the monitoring team to actively participate in the test events.

‘Successful demonstration of this targeting pod paves the way for a fielded capability that the operators have been requesting. It shows that with sustained modernisation, the B-1 will remain a major component of US air strike capability for the next 25 years,’ concluded Burton.