Test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Wednesday confirmed successful results in a series of tests of a new Sniper pod attached to the forward left side of a B-1B Lancer aircraft, enabling the bomber to do its own targeting. Existing B-1Bs rely on other aircraft and ground stations to positively identify targets.
There's still a lot of work to be done though. Maj. Jacque Joffrion, 419th FLTS B-1B flight commander and experimental test pilot, said the aerodynamic interaction between the pod and aircraft is still in question. The worry is that the pod could disrupt air flow, which could screw up the process of separating weapons from the aircraft when the bombs are being dropped. More in-depth weapon separation tests are planned using data from these experiments.
Maj. Joshua Lane, the 419th FLTS chief of standardization and evaluation and an experimental test weapon system officer, said the B-1B is an ideal candidate for the Sniper pod because of the bomber's weapons payload -- the largest and most diverse of any U.S. aircraft -- and its extended loitering capability.
The Sniper pod is manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
-- Catherine MacRae Hockmuth