Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod for RMAF

A model of the RMAF FA-50M Block 20 at LIMA 2023. Note the Cobham refueling probe, Sniper targeting pod and precision guided weapons. Malaysian Defence picture

SHAH ALAM: RMAF is set to buy ten Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods and related equipment for its F/A-18D Hornet for an estimated cost of $80 million or some RM379 million. The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) made the announcement on May 6.

Once it is delivered, the Sniper pod will replace the six ATFLIR pods procured from the US in 2011. The Sniper pods could also be used on the 18 KAI FA-50 light combat aircraft contracted with Korean Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI)Poland Approved To Purchase Sniper Targeting Pod

South Korean Air Force TA-50 used for the Sniper ATP certification. KAI.

Note the announcement does not mean that the procurement will proceed or the actual numbers will be bought.
ATFLIR pod.

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2024 – The 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 Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of Malaysia has requested to buy ten (10) AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods. 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.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States 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. This proposed sale will also mitigate future obsolescence concerns and allow the Royal Malaysian Air Force to meet future operational requirements. Malaysia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Corporation, located in Orlando, FL, and The Boeing Company, located in St. Louis, MO. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Malaysia.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

The description and dollar value are for the highest estimated quantity and dollar value based on initial requirements. Actual dollar value will be lower depending on final requirements, budget authority, and signed sales agreement(s), if and when concluded.

— Malaysian Defence

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16 Comments

  1. Why ditch the atflir i thought it was upgraded in the last update package.

  2. To push thru this buy the Govt must have to convince the beancounters that it could commonise and be used for the LCAs as well thus ensuring a higher ROI.

  3. >atflir

    It will be 15 years when it’s going to be replaced

    Also, nobody going to say anything about the damocles pod? Not only that it’s older than the atflir but also less capable

  4. dundun – ”Not only that it’s older than the atflir but also less capable”

    Indeed but the general assumption is that because it’s French it’s sound. As pointed out to ‘…’ years ago even the French made no claims it was a full fledged recce/nav/targeting pod. In French service [we bought it before them] Damocles was always intended to be an interim measure. Now one can point out the MKMs need a new pod [as I did previously] but as it stands the intent is only to spend what’s absolutely needed for the Fleet; Damocles still works. What was really ‘cutting edge” and expensive when we bought it [4] was NiteHawk. Had we bought the Super Hornets in 2002 it was planed to offer us Litening [produced by Zeiss in Germany].

  5. ATFLIR is a newer design compared to Damocles, of course it is less capable than ATFLIR. When it came out, it is much more advanced than any available russian pods.

    You pointed that out was in 2015. At that time, that is the only pod we can have for the MKM. No american stuff can be installed in the MKM (still is right now). TALIOS only available around 2019-2020. Upgrading the Damocles or replacing it with the TALIOS is one of the topmost priority in the list of things to do with the SU-30MKM. As the TALIOS does not need to have public approvals like USA does, it is for now still under the radar (umlike the official DSCA FMS announcement of the Sniper ATP)

  6. Eh the turks also made their own targeting pods. If it’s good enough for their F-16 it’s good enough for our Su-30mkm. It’s far cheaper than Sniper too

    >integration
    Can’t be that hard. JF-17 also uses turkish targeting pods

  7. … ”You pointed that out was in 2015”

    Whether ”2015” or ”2024” Damocles is/was not a full fledged targeting/navigation pod as I pointed out; as you refused to accept and as even the French did not claim.

    … – ”When it came out, it is much more advanced than any available russian pods.”

    Then as now the Russians had no pod with the similar capabilities which is why we ordered Damocles. Same thing with simulators; which is why as far back as 1994 we ordered the Fulcrum simulator from Canada. not Russia.

    … – ”At that time, that is the only pod we can have for the MKM.”

    Correction. It was the pod we selected and one which could be integrated.

    … – ”is one of the topmost priority in the list of things to do with the SU-30MKM.”

    Your ”priority” or the government’s/RMAF’s? Because if it’s the government’s/RMAF the intention is to spend the minimum; replace only what needs replacing.

    … – ”No american stuff can be installed in the MKM (still is right now). ”

    The Raytheon IFF TSB-2515 transponder is ”American”… Even the Fulcrums had an American GPS, TACAN anmd other things.

  8. ” Correction. It was the pod we selected and one which could be integrated ”

    There is no other western non-israeli and non-american targeting pod available for MKM at the time. There is also no russian targeting pod in production at the time.

    ” Your ”priority” or the government’s/RMAF’s? ”

    Priority of 12 Skn of TUDM. I would personally prefer to prioritise getting any non-usa equivalent of PAVEWAY, JDAM, JDAM-ER and SDB first.

    ” The Raytheon IFF TSB-2515 transponder is ”American” ”
    The Su-30MKM uses Thales TSA/TSB 2510 Electronical Scan IFF Interrogator/CIT
    https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/markets/defence-and-security/radio-communications/land-communications/iff-identification-air-Interrogators-CIT/TSX-2500

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GNESYkJaEAAG45y.jpg

  9. dundun – “Can’t be that hard. JF-17 also uses turkish targeting pods”

    Never underestimate the challenges of integration and the fact that even after it’s done issues can still arise; issues which may never be satisfactorily resolved.

  10. >non daddy murrica equvalent of paveway, jdam

    The turks is the answer. They did upgrade on Azeri Su-25 and now it could launch turkish version of Paveway and jdam

  11. Why throw good money for non significant advantage. The US navy still uses Atflir atleast until the end of SH service life (2045). Both the sniper & atflir are comparable. I agree with upgrading the Mkm damocles because its even older than the atflir. Atleast the atflir will get support simce the US still using it or even an upgrade. Put your priorities right man

  12. dundun – “Can’t be that hard. JF-17 also uses turkish targeting pods”

    Never underestimate the challenges of integration and the fact that even after it’s done issues can still arise; issues which may never be satisfactorily resolved.

  13. There may have been no other pod which was feasible at that time but the fact remains that Damocles was/is not a full fledged nav/targeting pod [that was the crux of the discussion] and comes wanting in many areas. Also, if we really wanted to there were other options; merely harder to integrate and not as politically desired.

    Thanks for the customary link but several sources also mention a Raytheon IFF.

    As the operator of the type 12 Squadron would no doubt like to replace various things but as far as the government and RMAF’s go the type will only be operated until it can be retired and whatever cash is spent will be on stuff which absolutely has to be replaced.

    I personally have no issues getting American ordnance as they are more extensively employed and tend to be slightly cheaper than European equivalents. They also share compatibility with the Hornets and are like to with the F/A-50. Another issue is that in times of emergency there are stocks in Guam and Okinawa. How many years would you reckon the French for instance would need to meet an emergency order for Scalp? We also train with planes of the USAF and USN regularly.

    There is also the fact that if you ask the user who it prefers to work with they tell you it’s the Americans [for a number of reasons]. Note also we’ve had far more positive experiences with our American gear that we’ve had with European or Russian stuff. Please don’t go into the subject of sanctions because if we’re ever sanctioned we’d be buggered big time and the worry would be the economy not sourcing American parts. Another issues is that if troubles break o t in the South China Sea and we’re involved [not written in stone];our main partner will not be the likes of Turkey, South Korea, France or Germany.

    Qamarul – there may be issues at play we’re not aware of. The fact that they want to get Sniper means there’s a good reason and not because they can’t get their priorities right. The section makers would not agree to a 80 million dollar deal for no good reason and as you’re aware Sniper can can also go into the F/A-50s.

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