Northrop Grumman announced that the LITENING Advanced Targeting (AT) pod has achieved more than two years of operational availability consistently above 95 percent among all US customers. LITENING AT systems are currently deployed with the US Air Force Reserve Command, Air National Guard, Marine Corps, Air Combat Command and coalition forces.
“The reliability that matters most to the warfighter is when the system is turned on and it works time and time again,” said Mike Lennon, vice president of Targeting and Surveillance programs at Northrop Grumman’s Defensive Systems Division. “LITENING AT has demonstrated reliability when called upon to perform surveillance or targeting missions. With over 765,000 operational hours (of which over 370,000 are combat hours), more than all other targeting pods combined, this milestone is truly a remarkable feat that is unsurpassed by any other advanced targeting pod in the world.”
The key to LITENING AT’s operational availability is an aggressive In-Service Reliability Improvement Program (ISRIP). This program is a continual process in which operational pods are evaluated under mission conditions for design deficiencies. The ISRIP provides engineering information on failure modes and mechanisms, resulting in the continual incorporation of improvements and corrective actions that lead to improved LITENING AT availability. Northrop Grumman is preparing to deliver initial fourth generation LITENING systems next year to US customers. The fourth generation version of LITENING will feature the most advanced 1024 x 1024 pixels (1k x 1k) forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor for improved target detection and recognition ranges under day and night conditions, new sensors for improved target identification, and other advanced target recognition and identification features.
Other product improvements already incorporated into LITENING as part of the fourth generation version include a new 1k charge-coupled device sensor, which provides improved target detection and recognition ranges under daylight conditions. Northrop Grumman’s LITENING AT system is a self-contained, multi-sensor laser target-designating, navigation and sensor system that enables aircrews to detect, acquire, track, identify and engage ground targets for highly accurate delivery of both conventional and precision-guided weapons. In addition, LITENING pioneered the use of video downlinks that provide ground forces with battlefield situational awareness from the perspective of an airborne platform. Since the Introduction of LITENING in 1999, the system has undergone numerous upgrades to ensure continued combat relevance in an ever-changing battlespace, with the fourth generation version the next step in its evolution. To date, almost 500 LITENING AT pods have been ordered with over 400 systems fielded, the largest number of any advanced targeting and sensor systems. The LITENING AT system is currently deployed on AV-8B, A-10, B-52, F-15E, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft, and is being integrated with the US Marine EA-6B.