The latest application for the DB-110 reconnaissance pod is on display at the UTC Aerospace Systems stand (1854). Ten examples of the dual-band, high-resolution system have been sold to the Royal Saudi Air Force and can be flown on the RSAF’s existing F-15S Strike Eagles, as well as its new, yet-to-be-delivered fleet of F-15SA jets. The DB-110 has already been sold to nine air forces operating F-16s. These include the Pakistan Air Force, whose commander showed imagery from the system during his presentation to the Air Chiefs’ Conference here Saturday. UTC also provides sophisticated ground-based exploitation systems, to which imagery can be datalinked. The provision to analysts of both visual and infrared imagery allows better interpretation, such as whether storage tanks are full or empty and if vehicles are newly-parked. “We’ve developed a sensor that offers long-, medium- and short-range all-in-one,” said Kevin Raftery, vice-president and general manager of UTC ISR Airborne Systems. “The mission can be entirely pre-planned, or the pilot can intervene. With the 110-inch focal length, the aircraft can fly in friendly airspace but see deep into the area of interest,” he told AIN. But with three different fields of view, direct overflight of targets at low-level is equally possible. On the latest digital aircraft, such as the F-15SA and F-16 Blocks 50/60, a “generic recce interface” recognizes the DB-110 pod as if it were a weapon, thus eliminating the need for a control box in the cockpit.
UTC has recently designed a new pod for the DB-110 that is carried by the MQ-9 Reaper UAV. The underwing installation still allows the UAV to be armed. Raftery said that the pod has been flight-tested and certified by the U.S. Air Force.
The next development will be a multispectral version that could be cleared for export to certain countries. The DB-110 is derived from a much larger system carried by the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, which has already been upgraded to a seven-band configuration.