GLOBAL DEFENSE MARKET
Lockheed Eyes Middle East Market for Targeting Pod
Photo: Lockheed Martin
As Lockheed Martin promotes its Sniper advanced targeting pod globally, it is expanding its reach into the Middle East military market for new opportunities.
The pods — which are intended for fourth-generation fighters — provide aircraft with the ability to detect, identify and automatically track and laser-designate small tactical targets at long ranges, according to the company.
“The Middle East and other regions in the world are still buying a lot of fourth-generation aircraft,” said Paul Lemmo, vice president of fire control/special operations forces contractor logistics support services at Lockheed Martin’s missiles and fire control division. “Given that those are new aircraft sales, those are all targets of opportunity for a targeting pod like Sniper.”
The system can be used with a variety of aircraft including the F-2, F-15, F-16, F-18, A-10, B-1, B-52 and Typhoon fighters, he said.
In July the company announced the sale of Sniper to Bahrain. The $22.45 million contract included pods, spares and support equipment for integration. Delivery is expected in early 2018.
The contract marked Lockheed’s 25th international customer for the pod. Bahrain joins other Middle Eastern nations, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as a Sniper customer.
Lockheed is pursuing programs that include aircraft that the Sniper is not currently on, Lemmo said. “Things like the Mirage, which is a French-built aircraft. There are a number of those still out there,” he said. The company also wants to put the system on Dassault’s Rafale and Korean Aerospace Industries’ T-50.
Lemmo said the company is in talks with most of the allied nations in the Middle East.
“As they contemplate their future aircraft buys, we are there talking to them about Sniper,” he said. “The nice thing is that most of them already use Sniper, so they like to have a common fleet of targeting pods rather than … different types.”
Lockheed is also looking toward Asia for new contracts, he said. The company already has contracts with KAI, Japan and Taiwan.
There are fewer opportunities in Europe, he said. That’s “mainly because they’ve bought them [already] and a lot of the countries there are going to be transitioning to the F-35” which has an embedded targeting system. “But there’s still a few opportunities there as well.”