Today, the possible impact an Air Force can have on the outcome of a war is measured by the capabilities and operational concept of that Air Force. Advancing with modern aviation through technological prowess, the Turkish Air Force (TurAF) is capable of detecting, identifying, and neutralizing ground and surface threats day and night, and in all weather conditions with its high-precision Laser-Guided Bombs (LGBs), INS/GPS, INS/GPS+SAL guided Smart Munitions, Long-Range Air-to-Ground/Surface Missiles (AGM-154 JSOW-A1/C, AGM-65G/G2 Maverick, and Popeye) or Air Launched Cruise Missiles such as AGM-84K-1 SLAM-ER and SOM-A/B1/B2 without entering the range of hostile defense systems, thanks to its modern targeting, navigation, and reconnaissance pods.

Date: Issue 103 - January 2021

The Turkish Air Force gained its 1st generation targeting pod capability in the mid-1970s. By June 1993, the TurAF started to receive the 2nd generation LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared System for Night) Pods (first installed on F-16 Block 40 Aircraft of the 161st Squadron in February 1994) based on the fact that high technology can only contribute to its deterrence in the region by keeping a combat readiness level that can operate continuously for 24 hours. The LANTIRN system, which gives the pilot the ability to use all weapons at night the same way used during the day, provided the Turkish Air Force with the ability and capability to hold the initiative in addition to conduct precise and continuous strikes on all targets that pose a threat during the day and especially at night, as well as the attack initiative. The Turkish Air Force started to use the 3rd generation Sniper XR Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) and LANTIRN Extended Range (ER) Navigation Pods on F-16C/D Block 40M, 50M and Block 50+ Aircraft in 2011, and the 3rd generation AselPOD Targeting Pod, designed and produced by Aselsan, on the F-16C/D Block 40M, Block 50M and Block 50+ Aircraft in 2016. The Turkish Air Force replaced the CA-880 Strategic and Tactical Aerial Reconnaissance System (It consists of a KS-146B LOROP-Long Range Oblique Photography camera mounted inside a modified external fuel tank that can be carried under the fuselage), which were purchased in the 1980s for the RF-4E reconnaissance aircraft, with the 3rd generation DB-110 EO/IR Digital Tactical Reconnaissance System in 2014. The DB-110 EO/IR can transmit the images it takes in real-time directly to the Image Processing/Exploitation Stations on the ground (there are two different data link antennas on the pod, one at the front and one at the rear, to provide 360-degree coverage and prevent possible loss of line-of-sight).

In this article, we will introduce to you the targeting, navigation, and reconnaissance pods used by the TurAF, and we will share brief information about their inventory acceptance processes and the capabilities they provide.