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Poland to equip FA-50 light fighters with Sniper targeting pods

The first FA-50 for Poland was rolled out in March 2023. (KAI)

Poland is to equip its soon-to-be-delivered Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft with the Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods (ATP).

The US State Department approved the sale of 34 Sniper ATPs on 9 May, saying the pods will enhance the FA-50's abilities to identify targets, track, and engage from a standoff distance, while increasing interoperability with US and NATO forces. The estimated value of the proposed deal is USD124.7 million.

The Sniper ATP offers pilots high-resolution imagery for precision targeting and non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. It detects, identifies, automatically tracks and laser-designates small tactical targets at long ranges, and supports employment of all laser- and Global Positioning System (GPS)-guided weapons against multiple fixed and moving targets.

The Sniper ATPs will equip the 48 FA-50 aircraft that Poland is acquiring as part of a wider bilateral defence procurement agreement with Seoul in September 2022. An initial 12 FA-50s that were originally intended for the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) are being diverted to Poland, to be designated FA-50GF (Gap Filler). The remaining 36 aircraft will be built specifically for Poland and designated FA-50PL (Poland). It is unclear if the FA-50GF airframes will retain their ‘gap filler' designation once in service, or if they will revert to the FA-50PL national designation instead.

KAI rolled out the first FA-50 for Poland on 9 March, ahead of delivery in mid-2023.

Once in service, the 48 FA-50s will augment the Polish Air Force's existing 48 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 50+ Fighting Falcons.

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