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Targeting pod

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Title: Targeting pod  
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Subject: McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle, CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder, Sukhoi PAK FA, Damocles (targeting pod), TIALD
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Targeting pod

A Thales Damocles (targeting pod) target designation pod combined with a NAVFLIR imager

Targeting pods are target designation tools used by ground-attack aircraft for identifying targets and guiding precision guided munitions (PGM) such as laser-guided bombs to those targets. The first targeting pods were developed in conjunction with the earliest generation of PGMs in the mid-1960s.


  • Categories 1
    • Laser designators 1.1
    • Electro-optics 1.2
    • Radar 1.3


Laser designators

The design of laser-guided bombs requires a "laser spot tracker" that locates reflected pulses of laser light from a designated target. This enables an aircraft's targeting system to home in on that specific target. The simplest spot trackers (like the Pave Penny pod) have no laser at all, just a laser sensor. Some targeting systems incorporate a laser rangefinder, a laser beam that can calculate the precise range to a target and communicate that information to the nav/attack system. Many targeting pods or installations use the same sensor as the laser spot tracker to receive the reflected rangefinder signal, so they can perform both ranging and tracking; these are called laser ranger and marked target seeker (LRMTS). Some targeting systems have a laser that can designate a target for laser-guided munitions, enabling the aircraft to designate its own targets or designate for other friendly units. LRMTS installations (particularly fixed internal units) of the 1970s often did not have a laser of sufficient power and slant range to designate targets, although they could provide rangefinding. Such units still required targets to be designated by a ground designator or forward air controller in another aircraft.


F-15E Heads-up display of infrared image from LANTIRN.

The basic electro-optical (EO) sensor is essentially a closed-circuit television camera, usually with a magnification lens, helping the aircrew to locate and identify targets. For night and adverse weather use, many EO sensors incorporate low-light light-amplification systems. Some pods supplement the basic visual EO with forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) to aid in locating and identifying targets in darkness. Such systems are sometimes called infrared search and track sensors.


Some pods may contain a small radar set for targeting and navigation, particularly for aircraft that have no search radar. Such a system, for example, was developed for the unsuccessful N/AW (Night/Adverse Weather) version of the USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II. Currently, laser and infrared systems are more popular than radar because they are less easily detected by adversaries, providing less

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