Northrop Grumman to provide Finnish air force combat jets with LITENING Advanced Targeting system

April 1, 2007
Fighter-bomber pilots in the air force of Finland needed advanced optical targeting systems for their fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Hornet jet strike fighters.

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. - Fighter-bomber pilots in the air force of Finland needed advanced optical targeting systems for their fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Hornet jet strike fighters. They found their solution from the Northrop Grumman Corp. Defensive Systems division in Rolling Meadows, Ill.

The Finnish Air Force (FiAF) chose Northrop Grumman’s third-generation LITENING Advanced Targeting (AT) system for its FiAF F-18 Mid-life Update 2 program.

Northrop Grumman’s LITENING AT system is a self-contained, multisensor weapon-aiming system that enables fighter pilots to detect, acquire, auto-track, and identify targets for accurate delivery of conventional and precision-guided weapons.

LITENING AT features advanced image processing for target identification; coordinate generation for GPS weapons; a 640-by-512-pixel forward-looking infrared sensor for day and night operations; a 1024-by-1024 pixel charge-coupled device television sensor; a dual-waveband infrared laser designator and range finder; a laser spot tracker; an infrared laser marker; and an optional air-to-ground data link and digital video recorder.

The LITENING Advanced Targeting (AT) system, shown above on an F-16 jet fighter, blends a variety of optical sensors for precision targeting of conventional and smart munitions.
Click here to enlarge image

At the same time, Engineers at Northrop Grumman are developing fourth-generation enhancements to the LITENING AT, which will feature a 1024-by-1024-pixel forward-looking-infrared (FLIR) sensor for target detection and recognition ranges under day and night conditions.

The new pod will also have new two-way data links and other networking capabilities to improve communications between ground-based and airborne forces. New sensors for improved target identification (ID) and other advanced target-recognition and identification features also are part of the latest system.

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 started flight-testing the new target-ID sensor in late 2006, as well as a second ID sensor with an advanced laser. Flight testing of the new FLIR sensor is set for this year.

“LITENING AT offers advanced technology, unique features, high reliability and proven worldwide support coupled with a demonstrated ability to easily integrate emerging technologies, all at a very competitive price and delivery schedule,” says Mike Lennon, vice president of targeting and surveillance programs at Northrop Grumman Defensive Systems.

With this contract award, the FiAF joins the U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, and Italian and Spanish navies in expanding LITENING AT operational use by coalition forces.

More than 500 LITENING pods have now been ordered by the U.S. Air Force and allied nations, and more than 370 of the systems have been fielded on the AV-8B jump jet, A-10 close-air-support jet, B-52 strategic bomber, F-15E fighter bomber, F-16 jet fighter, and F/A-18 strike fighters.

Together, all variants of the LITENING pod have amassed more than 600,000 flight hours, more than half of which have been logged under deployed and combat conditions.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Defensive Systems online at

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