By Greg Waldron
The US government has cleared the sale of targeting pods to equip Poland’s future fleet of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 light attack jets. The proposed sale coves 34 Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods, according to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).
Also included are support, spare parts, technical information, and other items related to the AN/AAQ-33. The potential deal is worth $124.7 million.
“The proposed sale will improve the tactical effectiveness of the FA-50 fighter aircraft that Poland is buying from the Republic of Korea by enhancing its abilities to identify targets, track, and engage from a standoff distance; it will also increase interoperability with US and NATO forces,” says the DSCA.
In March, KAI released the first images of an FA-50 in the Polish air force’s grey camouflage livery.
In late 2022, Warsaw ordered 12 FA-50s for $705 million, with the aircraft in a similar configuration to those flown by the Republic of Korea Air Force. A subsequent package covers 36 FA-50s, which are to be delivered from 2025-2028 under a $2.3 billion acquisition.
The jets will replace Poland’s RAC MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-22s. Poland’s ageing Soviet-era fleet suffers from sustainment issues, with spare parts from Russia being a particular challenge.
Sniper pod integration for the FA-50 was a long-term objective for KAI, which it finally achieved in 2021. The Sniper pod will greatly increase the FA-50’s passive detection capabilities against a range of targets. In addition to performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, the sensor can be used to designate targets, including moving vehicles.