MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga: Moody Air Force Base A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots operating over Iraq and Afghanistan this fall will be armed with new targeting pods designed to increase the already lethal capabilities.
A number of the 23rd Fighter Group’s A-10s will be upgraded to the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods, which are already used by other units including the 354th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and the 81st Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
The new sniper pods will replace the current Litening Advanced Targeting Pods in use.
“There are some differences in its capabilities, ranges, weight and mechanization, but the way they will be utilized is essentially the same,” said Lt. Col. Derek Oaks, the 75th Fighter Squadron commander. “It has a longer range, a stronger laser and is about 100 pounds lighter, but the software to use it and how it attaches to the plane is the same and doesn’t require any special installation.
“It’s the Air Force’s pod of choice and is already in use in combat as well as in several active-duty units who are equipped with both the A-10Cs and other aircraft including the B-1B Lancer, F-15E (Strike Eagles) and F-16 (Fighting Falcons),” the colonel said. “Aside from the new improvements, it’s important to focus on the basic abilities that any targeting pod gives to the A-10C.”
The sniper pods are used for many purposes, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to monitor potential enemy location or movements. They are also used to escort convoys with great stand-off range, which helps allow for a better opportunity to pinpoint potential threats.
They are capable of searching for and recognizing improvised explosive devices from a medium altitude and passing that information to the ground commander. The pods can also direct laser-guided bombs to targets by generating enough laser energy for the bomb to see and track until impact as well as mark targets day or night for other aircraft.
“The use of sniper pods in the deployed environment is essential to our success while downrange,” said Capt. Ryan Hayde, the 75th FS chief of weapons and tactics. “Without their use, we would not be able to complete the mission.
“With the way the new sniper pods were designed to seamlessly integrate with our A-10Cs, there’s no delay in having them ready to use or train with,” he added.
Together, the 74th FS and the 75th FS have logged more than 18,000 combat flight hours in the A-10s while deployed.