Published December 19, 2005
LITENING is a precision targeting pod system currently operational with a wide variety of combat air forces aircraft (A-10, B-52H, F-15E and F-16) as well as aircraft operated by other services and allies (AV-8B and EF-18). This precision targeting system significantly increases the combat effectiveness of the aircraft during day, night and under-the-weather conditions in the attack of ground targets with a variety of standoff weapons (i.e., laser-guided bombs, conventional bombs and GPS-guided weapons).
LITENING is a targeting pod integrated and mounted externally to the aircraft. The targeting pod contains a high-resolution, forward-looking infrared sensor (FLIR) that displays an infrared image of the target to the aircrew; it has a wide field of view search capability and a narrow field of view acquisition/targeting capability of battlefield-sized targets. The pod contains a charged coupled device (CCD-TV) camera used to obtain target imagery in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. An on-gimbal inertial navigation sensor has established line-of-sight and automatic boresighting capability.
The pod is equipped with a laser designator for precise delivery of laser-guided munitions, a laser rangefinder provides information for various avionics systems, for example, navigation updates, weapon deliveries and target updates. The targeting pod includes an automatic target tracker to provide fully automatic stabilized target tracking at altitudes, airspeeds and slant ranges consistent with tactical weapon delivery maneuvers. These features simplify the functions of target detection and recognition, and permit attack of targets with precision-guided weapons on a single pass.
The research and development program began at Rafael Corporation's Missiles Division in Haifa, Israel, with subsequent completion of LITENING I for use in the Israeli Air Force. In 1995 Northrop Grumman Corporation's teamed with Rafael for further development and sales of the LITENING pod. Northrup Grumman Corporation completed product improvements on the "Basic Pod" including a third generation FLIR, laser marker and software upgrades (LITENING II) which which was fielded with the Air Reserve components beginning in 1999.
Northrop Grumman subsequently replaced the "256" FLIR with a latest technology "512" FLIR. This pod, known as LITENING ER, extended the target detection range and began fielding in 2001. The newest version, LITENING AT, is in production and will begin fielding in 2003. It further extends target detection and recognition ranges, improves the target coordinate generation accuracy, and provides multi-target cueing.
Primary function: Navigation and infrared/electro-optical targeting
Prime Contractor: Northrop Grumman Corporation teamed with Rafael Corporation
Length: 87 inches (2.20 meters)
Diameter: 16 inches (0.406 meters)
Weight: 440 pounds (200 kilograms)
Aircraft: A-10, B-52H, F-15E, F-16 Block 25/30/32/40/42/50/52
Sensors: Infrared detector, CCD-TV camera, laser rangefinder and laser designator
Date Deployed: February 2000
Unit Cost: $1.4 million