B-1B Uses Sniper in Combat

A B-1B bomber equipped with a Sniper targeting pod struck enemy combatants with a 500-pound joint direct attack munition in Afghanistan on Aug. 4, marking the first time that the B-1B employed a weapon in combat with the help of the Lockheed Martin-built pod. The B-1B, from the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., is currently deployed to Southwest Asia under the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. Col. Marilyn Kott, 379th Expeditionary Operations Group commander, said the Sniper brings “an amazing new capability” to the B-1B. The pod’s advanced optics allow the bomber’s aircrew to detect and identify targets from standoff distances. The pod also allows the aircrew to designate its own targets for laser-guided bombs, generate its own targeting coordinates for GPS-guided weapons, like the JDAM, share live, streaming video images with joint terminal attack controllers to increase the chances of hitting the correct target, and quickly assess battle damage. B-1s of the 34th BS were fitted with the Sniper starting in April, and all of the unit’s B-1Bs currently serving with the 379th AEW will soon have them. Equipping the B-1Bs with the Sniper fills an urgent need request filed by the air component commander in Southwest Asia in 2006. Prior to the arrival of the Sniper, B-1B aircrews had to rely on the aircraft’s radar, which although of high resolution, could discern buildings and vehicles but not people. The B-52H was the first bomber integrated with the pod. (Includes 379th AEW report by Capt. Kristen Pate)