Qatar has selected the Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod to equip the 36 Rafale multirole fighters that the Qatar Emiri Air Force is receiving from Dassault. When deliveries of the pods begin next year, the Rafale will become the 10th aircraft type to be integrated with the Sniper. Flight tests of the pod carried on the Rafale’s intake pylon are ongoing.
French air force Rafales employ the Thales Damoclès targeting pod, and are shortly to receive the new-generation Talios.
Qatar’s selection of the Sniper may reflect a wider procurement decision concerning the QEAF’s fighter acquisitions, leading to further purchases of Sniper pods for the F-15QA Eagles and Eurofighter Typhoons that are also on order. Both types have been fully integrated with the pod.
Other Sniper carriers include A-10, B-1B, B-52, F-2 (Mitsubishi), F-16, F/A-18 and Harrier. The Tornado has also been tested with the Sniper.
Systems in the pod include a high-definition midwave infrared sensor, dual-mode eye-safe laser, high-definition daytime TV, laser spot tracker and marker, video datalink, and a digital data recorder.
As well as its targeting function, the Sniper offers an impressive NTISR (non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) capability.