When Northrop Grumman delivered its first LITENING advanced targeting pod two decades ago, it brought unprecedented precision and situational awareness to strike, surveillance and humanitarian missions – supporting the RAAF’s fleet of F/A-18 Hornets to maintain lethality.
The introduction of LITENING enabled pilots to have a clearer picture than ever before, both day and night, and the ability to work more closely with forces on the ground to carry out precision strikes. Since that time, the pod has evolved to adapt to a changing world.
Brent Toland, vice president, land and avionics C4ISR at Northrop Grumman, said, "With LITENING, we have continued to field innovative capabilities first to address the changing missions of our customers."
The modular design of LITENING has enabled rapid evolution in sensors, pilot-vehicle interfaces and processing capabilities. The original pods contained 256-pixel FLIR sensors.
Today, LITENING can provide digital, high definition video at four times that resolution. From design to implementation, the digital video capability was realised in just 12 months.
"One of the keys to LITENING’s continued relevance is its modular design, making capability enhancements quick and affordable," Toland added.
LITENING is the only targeting pod in the US Department of Defense inventory that provides dedicated infrared, visible and laser apertures; an active short wave infrared sensor to enhance combat identification; and high-definition digital video to the cockpit.
LITENING is in service with all components of the combat Air Force, the Marine Corps and several international customers, including the Royal Australian Air Force and its fleet of Classic Hornets.
Through its 24/7 logistics support program, LITENING maintains an availability rate in excess of 95 per cent. The pod has been integrated on a wide range of platforms, including AV-8B, A-10, B-52, C-12, C-130, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, and MQ-9.
Northrop Grumman was contracted in 2015 to provide in-service support for the RAAF's LITENING pods installed on the Hornets.
The contract was the second four-year extension of the agreement between the RAAF and Northrop Grumman. Under the terms of the award, Northrop Grumman will continue to provide in-service support for the RAAF's LITENING targeting pods and data links at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal.
Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernisation to government and commercial customers worldwide.