Ultra Electronics Holdings announces that its Sonar & Communication Systems business, based in Greenford, Middlesex, has been selected by the UK Ministry of Defense to supply and support LITENING III variant surveillance & targeting pods for the RAF’s Eurofighter aircraft. Ultra will act as the prime contractor and assemble the pods in the UK, with its Sonar & Communication Systems business unit running the project. LITENING designer RAFAEL of Israel will act as the principal sub-contractor.
The Eurofighter has initially been produced and delivered in its air defense version; full muti-role capabilities are still several years away. The addition of the LITENING pods is a fast way to upgrade the aircraft’s ground attack capabilities, and make it more relevant to the Global War on Terror and other likely contingencies. With respect to the contract’s cost, and the pods’ additional features…
The total value of the initial contract for 20 pods was expected to be about GBP 15 million (USD $26.5 million). The UK Ministry of Defense announced that it intends to make a single source, off the shelf procurement for the UK that follows a competitive assessment carried out in 2000 by Eurofighter GmbH/NETMA on behalf of all four nations participating in the Typhoon programme. A subsequent August 10, 2006 release from the UK MoD noted that the LITENING IIIs “will provide a ground attack capability for the UK in advance of a more comprehensive air-to-surface package which is planned by all four partner nations (Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) later in the decade.”
A subsequent July 17, 2006 contract between the British MoD and Ultra turned out to be GBP 56 million (about $102.43 million). The deal also includes 20 years of in-service support. As Ulta Electronics plc notes:
“The targeting pod to be provided is the Litening EF (Gen III) which is the latest version of Rafael’s Litening pod. It will provide the Typhoon aircraft with a vital air-to-ground targeting capability including the ability to laser-designate a ground target for attack by other assets. This version of the Litening pod also provides a ground reconnaissance and scanning capability, even when the Eurofighter is flying at maximum speed at low altitudes and undertaking combat manoeuvres. The pod can store the digital record of the imagery to facilitate post-mission analysis for training purposes.
The versatile Litening pod has various additional operating modes including air-to-air targeting to enhance Eurofighter’s traditional air superiority role. The pod is also equipped with third-generation Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) sensors, the images from which can be fed into the pilot’s Head-Up Display (HUD) to assist low altitude supersonic night flying.
Ultra will be providing the UK with a sovereign operational capability for Litening pod. Technology will be transferred from Rafael to Ultra in the UK so that the equipment can be supported and upgraded as necessary for the next 20 years. Ultra will also undertake a specialist role of supporting the security accreditation of the pod. Ultra will be providing the RAF with a guaranteed level of equipment availability for operations under a Contractor Logistic Support (CLS) arrangement.”
LITENING appears to be moving toward a de facto position as the default choice in this sector. DID has covered this system several times – including Australia’s similar-value Australia’s $100M purchase of 37 LITENING AT pods plus support, the this pod is also a standard option with the JAS-39 Gripen.
Meanwhile, a July 20, 2006 release from Eurofighter GmbH sets this effort in the context of the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) contract for the integration of a Laser Designator Pod (LDP) and the Enhanced Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb on Royal Air Force Typhoons. Eurofighter CEO Aloysius Rauen also said: “With this new contract we will boost Eurofighter Typhoon’s capabilities beyond the contracted Tranche 1 performance. It will definitely make the aircraft even more attractive to potential export customers…”
Additional Readings & Sources
* Ultra Electronics (Sept 27/05) – Ultra Selected To Provide Targeting Pod For RAF Typhoon Aircraft
* Ultra Electronics (July 17/06) –
Ultra Wins GBP 56m Contract To Supply Targeting Pods For UK Eurofighter Typhoon Aircraft.