ATP-SE: LITENING Targeting Pods Now Feature ‘Gen-5’
June 13/19: Upgrades Rafael together with IAI’s Elta Systems will upgrade the Litening 5 and Reccelite XR all-weather stand-off airborne electro-optic targeting pods with a synthetic aperture radar imagery intelligence payload, Jane’s reports. The Litening 5 is a high-resolution multi-sensor targeting pod, incorporating an upgraded 1.2K x 1.2K large aperture forward-looking mid-wave infrared and a short-wave infrared. In addition to more diverse targeting, the pods are said to feature inter-asset communications and sensor sharing capabilities. The fifth generation of the targeting pod is now capable of targeting from long range, enabling strike aircraft to employ guided weapons from standoff range without relying on external support. Litening 5 employs a new sensor package, utilizing an optical assembly and larger aperture tailored specifically for the new sensors, enabling the increased identification and recognition distance. Reccelite XR is a multi-spectral, multi-role, real-time standoff reconnaissance system that consists of an airborne pod, a wide digital datalink and a ground exploitation station. Similar to the Litening 5, Reccelite XR received an enhanced sensor package comprising megapixel-size arrays of near-infrared, mid-wave infrared, color sensors and short-wave infrared.
At the end of September 2010, the USAF dropped something of a bombshell. Under their $2.3 billion Advanced Targeting Pod – Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) contract, the service that had begun standardizing on one future surveillance and targeting pod type decided to change course, and split its buys.
This decision is a huge breakthrough for Northrop Grumman, whose LITENING pod had lost the USAF’s initial 2001 Advanced Targeting Pod competition. As a result of that competition, the USAF’s buys had shifted from LITENING to Sniper pods, and Lockheed Martin’s Sniper became the pod of choice for integration onto new USAF platforms. Since then, both of these pods have chalked up procurement wins around the world, and both manufacturers kept improving their products. That continued competition would eventually change the landscape once again.
In January 2015, Rafael announced that their upcoming upgrade that they call G-4 Advanced outside the U.S., and “G-5” for the Americans will have air-to-air targeting capabilities.
In addition to more diverse targeting, the pods are said to feature inter-asset communications and sensor sharing capabilities – in essence some of the whiz-bang features touted in the F-35 platform that is supposed to push the F/A-18 into obsolescence.
ATP-SE: Evolution in Action
ATP-SE: The Competitors
Lockheed Martin’s Aerial Sniper
Northrop Grumman: LITENING in a Pod
Contracts & Key Events: ATP-SE
FY 2010 – 2012
Contracts & Key Events: ATP-SE Lead-Ins
FY 2011 – 2012
FY 2004 – 2010
Fill in the secure form below to activate your subscription right away (or pick another plan)