Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Origin: United States of America
Northrop Grumman and Rafael
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Description: The LITENING AT (Advanced Targeting) makes use of new circuitry and software algorithms to extend target detection range and improve target coordinate generation accuracy. The new LITENING AT features a 640 x 512 pixel forward-looking infrared sensor, 1,004 x 1,004 pixel charge-coupled device (CCD) television sensors; a laser spot tracker; an infrared laser marker; an infrared laser designator/range finder; and air-to-ground data links. Also introduces improvements to support emerging weapons guided by the GPS system. Moreover, plug-and-play LITENING AT pod can pass tactical data to ground- and air-based users through any data link without aircraft modifications.
LITENING AT retains proven characteristics from LITENING targeting and navigation pod as well as its sub-systems: FLIR, CCD-TV, INS and laser designator. The United States Air Force (USAF), along with the Air National Guard (ANG) and the Air Force Reserve (AFRes), intends to upgrade existing LITENING II and LITENING ER pods to the AT configuration for use on its F-15E, A-10, B-52H and F-16 fleets. The LITENING AT pod first saw combat in 2003 used on the US Marine Corps (USMC) F/A-18 fleet supporting operation Iraqi Freedom.
On August 27, 2004, Northrop-Grumman announced that the US Marine Corps (USMC) had integrated and tested successfully the Litening AT (Advanced Targeting) pod on the F/A-18D Hornet. The Marine Corps planned to procure 60 Litening AT pods to support its fleet of 72 twin-seater F/A-18Ds. In early 2005, the USMC expanded the scope of the program to provide this pod to its entire fleet of tactical combat aircraft consisting of Hornets and Harriers. As of March 2005, Northrop-Grumman reported that the LITENING AT had logged nearly 10,000 combat flight hours on the USMC F/A-18D aircraft. All in all, more than 300 LITENING AT pods have logged more than 350,000 flight hours installed on several aircraft types. Around 125,000 flight hours were posted from combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On 13 June 2005, Northrop-Grumman announced that it was awarded a $40 million contract for the first 24 LITENING AT targeting pods for the USMC F/A-18 expeditionary fleet. The contract was part of 2005 supplemental budget. The total number of LITENING AT pods in the USMC was expected to exceed 100 following this order. LITENING AT pods with plug and play data link capability were first delivered to the US Marine Corps in September 20005. The USMC and the With USAF and USMC inventories totaling 124 such pods by early 2006.
On 7 September 2005, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) selected Northrop-Grumman's LITENING AT targeting pod for its F/A-18 upgrade program. Under the terms of the $100 million agreement, the RAAF was expected to receive 37 pods and spares between 2006 and 2007. On 6 November 2006 the Royal Netherlands Air Force announced the selection of the Northrop-Grumman LITENING AT targeting pod for its F-16A/B aircraft. Up to 20 targeting pods along with spares were scheduled for delivery to the Netherlands from 2007 through 2008. The contract was valued at $40 million.
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