Northrop Grumman Delivers Litening G4 Advanced Targeting Pods

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Litening Targeting Pod on the F-16

The Northrop Grumman Corporation has completed delivery of the first 50 Litening G4 Advanced Targeting Pods under a $277.8 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract from the U.S. Air Force. Litening G4 has begun full operations at its first military base with seven additional base deployments planned in the near future.

"A significant technological leap, enhancing the F-16's combat capability while reducing pilot workload" Maj. Evans Boeve, Targeting Pod program manager with the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center. Photo: Northrop Grumman

Litening G4 and the equivalent ‘Litening Advanced Targeting Pod – Sensor Enhancement’ (ATP-SE) has a full one megapixel (1000×1000) Forward Looking Infrared in addition to the megapixel size Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) sensors and optics already introduced in the earlier Litening AT version, offering wider field of view and enhanced zoom to deliver more accurate target identification and location at longer ranges than previous generations of the Litening.

Another new feature is the ‘Laser Target Imaging Program’ (LTIP), employing a short wave infrared (SWIR) laser augmented imaging, to enhance the targeting system’s capability to capture images in situations where medium-wave infrared (MWIR) forward-looking infrared and CCD are ineffective. In addition, the Litening ATP-SE employs an integral digital two-way data link, facilitating encrypted data communications with compatible land-based or airborne digital datalink devices.

Prior generation Litening AT pods are fully upgradable to the G4 configuration, said Jim Mocarski, the company’s vice president of Electro Optical/Infrared Targeting Systems. In fact, expanded production of new and upgraded pods will be continued under Lot 2 production, delivering the U.S. Air Force the ‘Advanced Targeting Pod – Sensor Enhancement’ (ATP-SE) program, while supplying the Marine Corps with new Litening G4, Mocarski added.

The Litening pod was originally developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems which marked the sale of the 1,000th Litening pod in 2010. Rafael has teamed with Northrop Grumman to deliver the Litening system to U.S. services and other Foreign Military Sales customers. Under this agreement Northrop Grumman delivered more than 550 targeting pod systems to U.S. and international customers. If the government exercises all options under this IDIQ contract, Northrop Grumman is expected to receive an approximately $920 million share of the entire $2.3 billion award for the purchase of up to 670 pods through 2017.

Since its introduction in 1999 with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves, the Litening system has undergone four spiral upgrades. According to Northrop Grumman, these systems have maintained an operational availability greater than 98 percent, and have flown more than 540,000 combat flight hours.