Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from LITENING targeting pod)
Litening Pod mounted underneath a United States Marine Corps McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet

The AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening targeting pod is an advanced precision targeting pod system currently operational with a wide variety of aircraft worldwide. The research and development of the Litening was first undertaken by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' Missiles Division in Israel, with subsequent completion of Litening I for use in the Israeli Air Force.

Litening significantly increases the combat effectiveness of the aircraft during day, night and under-the-weather conditions in the attack of ground and air[1] targets with a variety of standoff weapons (i.e., laser-guided bombs, conventional bombs and GPS-guided weapons). The thousandth pod was sold in October 2010.[2]



Litening is an integrated targeting pod that mounts externally to the aircraft. The targeting pod contains a high-resolution, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor that displays an infrared image of the target to the aircrew; it has a wide field of view search capability and a narrow field of view acquisition/targeting capability of battlefield-sized targets. The pod also contains a CCD camera used to obtain target imagery in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. An on-gimbal inertial navigation sensor establishes line-of-sight and automatic boresighting capability.

The pod is equipped with a laser designator for precise delivery of laser-guided munitions. A laser rangefinder provides information for various avionics systems, for example, navigation updates, weapon deliveries and target updates. The targeting pod includes an automatic target tracker to provide fully automatic stabilized target tracking at altitudes, airspeeds and slant ranges consistent with tactical weapon delivery maneuvers. These features simplify the functions of target detection and recognition, and permit attack of targets with precision-guided weapons on a single pass.



The research and development program began at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' Missiles Division in Israel, with subsequent completion of Litening I for use in the Israeli Air Force. In 1995 Northrop Grumman Corporation teamed with Rafael for further development and sales of the Litening pod, reaching IOC the same year.[3]

Litening II/ER/AT


Northrop Grumman Corporation and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems completed product improvements on the "Basic Pod" including a third generation FLIR, laser marker and software upgrades (Litening II) which was fielded beginning in 1999.

Northrop Grumman and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems subsequently replaced the "320x256" FLIR with a latest technology "640x512" FLIR. This pod, known as Litening ER, extended the target detection range and was fielded in 2001. The newest version, Litening AT, is in production and was fielded in 2003. It further extends target detection and recognition ranges, improves the target coordinate generation accuracy, and provides multi-target cueing.[4]

Litening AT features a plug-and-play bay configured to accept a wide variety of data-links and recorders. Plug and Play II data-link capability offers increased range, digital data recording and an option to incorporate secure, two-way communications over ultra-high frequency (UHF) radios. Litening's Plug and Play I, introduced in 2003, was the first data-link to be incorporated in a third generation targeting pod.[5]

Litening G4


Litening G4, which began to be delivered to U.S. forces in 2008, added new sensors for improved target identification and other advanced target recognition and identification features. The Litening G4 provides significant enhancements in terms of both recognition range and image quality due to Rafaels' AVP imaging capability.[6] The G4's technologies include a full 1Kx1K forward looking infrared and charge-coupled device, as well as short wave infrared laser imaging sensors, color symbology, tracker improvement and enhanced zoom. The Litening Gen 4 technology and capability is also available in a kit form that allows users to upgrade their currently fielded Litening pods. The Royal Danish Air Force is the first international partner to take delivery of G4 pods. Rafael Advanced Systems announced on the eve of DefExpo 2014 a large order for 150+ Litening targeting pods for the Indian Air Force's combat aircraft fleet. Litening G4 pods have been chosen by the Indian Air Force for its frontline fighter aircraft, including the Su-30 MKI, MiG-29 and others.[7]

Litening SE


Litening SE provides laser ranging and designation in support of weapon delivery, navigational functions, and recording and data-linking of generated imagery and data. This version includes a Plug-N-Play (PnP) III(TM) digital two-way, data link LRU inside the pod. The pods are being delivered as part of the United States Air Force's Advanced Targeting Pod – Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) program.[8]

Litening III


The Litening III, used on the IAF Tejas, Italian Air Force AMX, and RAF Typhoon aircraft, also provides still image capture for reconnaissance missions in addition to the targeting capabilities found on other models.[9]

RecceLite / RecceLite XR


A gimballed version of the Litening pod for use on drones such as the Predator B or directly integrated into a crewed aircraft, in addition it incorporates multi-spectral cameras and C & XU band communication channels to transmit recon feeds. RecceLite XR incorporates the improvements from the Litening 5 pod.[10]

Litening 5


The Litening 5 is the latest version of the pod introduced in 2019. It improves the resolution of the short and medium-wave infrared cameras and introduces a synthetic aperture radar with a 100 km range.[11] The Litening 5 is being introduced to service on Saab JAS 39 Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.[12]

Future developments


Rafael sees an increased market in the future because of the move to stealth platforms which must have targeting systems built in. In 2013 the company was developing a new model to compete for the F-35 requirement.[13] At present F-35's have the equivalent of a Lockheed Martin Sniper XR called the EOTS (Electro Optical Targeting System) built in[14] and from batch 4 the Advanced EOTS with improved cameras.[15] However, in 2020 the delivery to the Israeli airforce of a prototype F-35I with the EOTS's apertures covered over fueled speculation that the F-35I would incorporate a version of the Litening 5 over the Advanced EOTS upgrade.[16]

General characteristics

  • Primary function: Navigation and infrared/electro-optical targeting[17]
  • Prime contractor: Rafael Corporation/Northrop Grumman.
  • Length: 2.20 m (7.2 ft)
  • Diameter: 40.6 cm (16.0 in)
  • Weight: 208 kg (459 lb)
  • Sensors: Infrared detector, CCD-TV camera, eye safe laser rangefinder and laser designator.
  • Sensor resolution (for Litening III): CCD (tv): 1K × 1K; FLIR: 640×480.
  • Introduction date: February 2000.
  • Unit cost: $1.4 million.

Aircraft use




Current operators

 Czech Republic

Litening II Pods supplied by Rafael/Zeiss Optronik joint venture

 South Africa
 United Kingdom

Litening III RD & EF pods supplied by Ultra Electronics Limited

 United States

Former operators


Comparable Systems



  1. ^ "AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening Low Risk, Next Generation Targeting Pod". Archived from the original on 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  2. ^ "ATP-SE: Litening Strikes as USAF Splits Future Targeting Pod Orders". Archived from the original on 2010-10-27. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
  3. ^ "Litening". Deagel.com. Deagel. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  4. ^ "U.S. Air Force Factsheet: Litening II/ER/AT". Archived from the original on June 24, 2003.
  5. ^ Northrop Grumman Northrop Grumman Delivers New Advanced Data-Link to U.S. Marine Corps for Litening Targeting Pods [1] Archived 2009-01-02 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Northrop Grumman Receives $120 Million Order to Supply Litening Gen 4 Targeting Sensor Systems including RAFAEL AVP (Advanced Video Processor) System [2] Archived 2009-01-03 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "India chooses Litening G4 for combat aircraft fleet - SP's MAI". Archived from the original on 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2014-04-11.
  8. ^ Northrop Grumman Awarded U.S. Air Force Contract to Provide Litening SE Advanced Targeting Pods [3] Archived 2011-10-25 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Litening III Advanced Targeting/Recce Pod — Proven Operational Performance" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  10. ^ "Rafael to Sell More LITENING 5 and RecceLite Pods". 21 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Rafael adds SAR capability to Litening 5, Reccelite XR EO pods". Janes.com.
  12. ^ Hoyle, Craig. "Litening V service introduction to boost RAF Typhoons". FlightGlobal.
  13. ^ ""Rafael eyes Litening adaptation for stealth aircraft."". Archived from the original on 2013-07-29. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  14. ^ ""Electro-Optical Targeting System."". Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  15. ^ "Lockheed Martin Launches Advanced EOTS for F-35". 10 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Let's Talk About the One-of-a-kind F-35I Adir Test Aircraft the Israeli Air Force Has Just Received". 13 November 2020.
  17. ^ "Refael Litening III pdf file" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-07-17.
  18. ^ Moralez, João Paulo (January–February 2021). "New life for FAB's strategic vector". Revista Pucará. No. 5. p. 29.
  19. ^ van der Ende, Cees-Jan. "COLOMBIA'S DELTA DEFENDERS". Key Military. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  20. ^ "Northrop Grumman to Provide Finnish Air Force F-18s with LITENING Advanced Targeting System". Northrop Grumman Newsroom. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  21. ^ "All Finnish Air Force's Hornets Upgraded to MLU 2". ilmavoimat.fi. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  22. ^ Cenciotti, David. "Greek F-4E AUP Phantom II With New Special Markings Visits Aviano On Its Way To The Netherlands". The Aviationist. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  23. ^ a b c d Ghaswalla, Amrita Nair (11 January 2018). "Israel's Rafael eyes larger role in India's defence programme". Businessline. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-11-07.
  24. ^ Egozi, Arie (17 July 2017). "Rafael targets Indian contract with Litening pod". Flight Global. Archived from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-11-07.
  25. ^ "F-16 Air Forces - Israel". F-16.net. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  26. ^ "Tayeset 107 (IDFAF)". F-16.net. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  27. ^ "F-16 Air Forces - The Netherlands". F-16.net. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  28. ^ Northrop Grumman to Upgrade Portuguese Air Force F-16s With Litening AT: http://www.irconnect.com/noc/press/pages/news_releases.html?d=147539 Archived 2009-01-03 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "Portugal Selects LITENING AT Pods for Its F-16s - Defense Industry Daily". Retrieved 2023-12-03.
  30. ^ "Portugal faz upgrade aos 'Litening targeting pods' dos F-16". NewsAvia. 2015-08-17. Retrieved 2023-12-03.
  31. ^ "Portuguese KC-390 prepared to receive LITENING G4".
  32. ^ Rogoway, Tyler. "Romania Should Give The MiG-21 Lancers It Just Grounded To Ukraine". The Drive. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  33. ^ "Singapore's RSAF also uses it (Litening-III on its F-16 fleet), though it has selected Lockheed's Sniper pod to equip its F-15SGs, and will add Sniper ATPs to its F-16 Block 52+ aircraft as well". Archived from the original on 2009-02-07. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
  34. ^ "Litening III targeting pod". The South African Air Force (unofficial website). Archived from the original on 1 May 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  35. ^ "Gripen equipped with Litening GIII Pod (UPDATED II)". Archived from the original on 2016-11-22. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  36. ^ "Escuadrón 161 (FAV)". F-16.net. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  37. ^ Newdick, Thomas (29 November 2021). "Australia Says Farewell To The F/A-18 Legacy Hornet As Its Final Flight Looms (Updated)". The Drive. Retrieved 28 June 2022.