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In one of the 10-percent True interviews / dialogs with "Starbaby" Petrucha, Starbaby (an F-15E Strike Eagle WSO, among other things) asserts

the targeting pod on the Strike Eagle, at the time, shut off if you flew above 25,000 feet because the the pump could not pressurize the laser waveguide, and if the density of the atmosphere inside the waveguide was too low, you would arc and you would burn it up and you wouldn't get a laser.

Are there any other sources that support this altitude limit for the Strike Eagle's targeting pods, and the explanation for why? It's in an interesting detail that I've never heard discussed before and I haven't been able to find any more discussion of it by searching for issues with lasers arcing (those generally seem to be more about the wiring and not the waveguide).

The above quote (the link is timestamped to take you to it) comes up during a discussion of the altitude planning for air operations during the NATO air war in the Balkans in the late 1990s, so maybe other sources about that conflict would also contain references to this.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don’t know if that’s true for the modern AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening targeting pods but it may have been true for the earlier AN/AAQ-14 LANTIRN targeting pods. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 1:39

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