By John Keller
ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. - Engineers at Northrop Grumman Corp. Defensive Systems segment in Rolling Meadows, Ill., are planning for new fourth-generation enhancements to the company’s LITENING AT precision targeting and sensor system deployed with the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command, U.S. Air National Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command.
The fourth-generation version of LITENING, which is currently in development, 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 has begun flight testing of a new target ID sensor, and later this year will test a second ID sensor that features an advanced laser. In addition, the new FLIR sensor will undergo preliminary system tests by year’s end as a precursor to flight testing in 2007.
Northrop Grumman’s LITENING AT system is a self-contained, multisensor laser target-designating and navigation system that enables aircrews to detect, acquire, track, and identify ground targets for delivery of conventional and precision-guided weapons.
To date, more than 400 pods have been ordered with more than 360 fielded, the largest number of any advanced targeting and sensor system. It is deployed on AV-8B Harrier jump jets, A-10 Thunderbolt close-air-support jets, B-52 strategic jet bombers, F-15E fighter-bombers, F-16 Falcon fighters, and F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter aircraft.
Since the introduction of LITENING in 1999, the system has undergone several major upgrades, with the fourth-generation version the next step in that evolution. Northrop Grumman announced planned improvements to the LITENING system at the annual Joint Users Conference in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
“The Joint Users Conference is a great forum for the exchange of ideas between our Northrop Grumman technologists and the men and women in the military who count on LITENING to help accomplish their missions,” says Mike Lennon, vice president of targeting and surveillance programs at Northrop Grumman’s Defensive Systems Division.