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RMAF’s FA-50 Block 20 Utilises “Sniper” Advanced Targeting Pod

The Sniper ATP targeting pod developed by Lockheed Martin, weighing approximately 200kg, provides its users with upgraded capabilities to track and identify targets, as well as continuous surveillance for all missions, including close support for ground forces.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) is scheduled to begin receiving the first four of the total 18 FA-50 Block 20 light combat aircraft developed by the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) company on the last quarter of 2026.

The FA-50 Block 20 aircraft that will be owned by the RMAF is the latest and most capable variant compared to the variants of the same combat aircraft owned by Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and even South Korea Air Force (ROKAF)  itself.

Only the FA-50PL variant from Poland is nearly identical to the FA-50 Block 20 owned by the RMAF.

Industry sources told Defence Security Asia that the Malaysian FA-50 Block 20 aircraft will be equipped with the “Sniper” Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP), developed by the American defense firm Lockheed Martin.

 This approximately 200kg targeting pod provides its user with upgraded capabilities to track and identify targets, as well as continuous surveillance for all missions, including close support for ground forces.

FA-50

The Sniper ATP system has proven its capabilities in battlefields involving the United States and international customers, including F-15E, F-16 (all Blocks), B-1, A-10C, Harrier GR7/9, and F/A-18 aircraft.

Lockheed Martin is also reported to be in the final stages of integrating the Sniper ATP targeting pod onto the United States Air Force B-52 bomber aircraft.

The “plug and play” capability of the Sniper ATP allows it to be used on various platforms without the need for software changes.

Some of the Sniper ATP targeting pod’s capabilities include mid-wave Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) in high definition, HDTV, dual-mode laser, laser spot tracker, laser marker, video data link, and digital data recorder.

The targeting pod also has the ability to track tactical targets through real-time imagery displayed in the cockpit.

Sniper
“Sniper” Advanced Targeting Pod.

 

The Sniper ATP is also suitable for pairing with the latest “J-Series” bombs for use against moving and stationary targets.

In addition to being equipped with the Raytheon Intelligence & Space “PhantomStrike” Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, the Malaysian FA-50 Block 20 aircraft is also fitted with U/VHF radios similar to those used in the latest F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft.

The 18 FA-50 Block 20 aircraft acquired by Malaysia for over RM4 billion are also equipped with “Link 16 Block Upgrade 2,” a secure military tactical data link that is resistant to enemy interference and other features.

Furthermore, these aircraft variants will be equipped with a 20mm gun, AIM-9 guided missiles, GBU-12 Laser-Guided Bomb (LGB) Integration, GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), and AGM-65 Maverick guided missiles.

There is also a high likelihood that the FA-50 Block 20 aircraft acquired by the RMAF will be equipped with Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air guided missiles, such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM, similar to what Poland will acquire.

Sniper
Sniper ATP is also used by B-1 “Lancer” strategic bomber.

 

This depends on approval from the United States, but considering our previous use of AMRAAM, it would not be surprising if we also equipped the FA-50 Block 20 with BVR capabilities.

The FA-50 Block 20 aircraft variants are also reported to be equipped with Air-To-Air Refuelling Probes (AAR Probe) known as the “Cobham Mission System,” developed by the United Kingdom-based Cobham company.

The air-to-air refueling capability will ensure that the FA-50 Block 20 aircraft can operate at longer ranges and remain airborne for extended periods. – DSA

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