The Bangladesh Air Force has taken up a Research & Development (R&D) project to develop and manufacture Modular Reconnaissance Pods (MRP) that can be integrated on to existing fighter aircraft such as F-7 and MiG-29.
Technical wing of the air force advised the air force’s procurement board it will initiate the project instead of importing such equipment from abroad, thereby saving a huge amount of foreign currency and developing expertise in the development of aerial sensors.
A tactical aerial reconnaissance pod’s main role is to map terrain, conduct pre and post-strike bomb damage assessment, standoff oblique photography and maritime ship surveillance.
This critical piece of mission tool will enable Bangladesh Air Force commanders to assess situation rapidly and take decisions such as striking strategic targets, whereby previously the forces relied on expensive foreign satellite imagery or basic Chinese-origin aerial photoreconnaissance pods mounted on F-7s. The pods are to be designed for operating in day/night missions for medium to low altitude reconnaissance missions.
Such mission pods would be useful in the event of any conflict with neighbouring countries or perform routine counter insurgency or anti-drug surveillance over bordering areas of Bangladesh.
A tactical aerial reconnaissance pod is mounted externally, usually on the centerline hard point of a fighter aircraft. It consists of adapter, high definition frame camera, low-altitude panoramic camera, infrared reconnaissance camera set, data display set, power supply unit, power distribution unit, environmental control unit, onboard solid state data storage unit and winch mechanism.
The aerial reconnaissance pod is spaced like a cruise missile or drop tank.
Depending on the system architecture the Bangladesh Air Force might integrate the aerial reconnaissance pods on other combat platforms to maximise its ability to gather photo-intelligence for greater operational flexibility during operations.
Companies from China, Turkey, France and South Korea are manufacturing similar yet highly costly equipment for export.
Once the equipment is developed and integrated onto the Bangladesh Air Force’s frontline fighter aircraft, the country will be join only a handful of capable of developing, manufacturing such mission-critical sensors.
Components for the pods will be sourced from a variety of other countries to ensure the project is completed in time and on budget. Currently the Bangladesh Air Force has over a 100 R&D projects, all of which are designed to support existing aircraft operations.
These indigenous projects are usually never disclosed to the public but help support the ongoing operations of the Bangladesh Air Force and save the financial resources of the country.