Electronic Weapons: February 25, 2003

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U.S. Navy F-18Ds are being equipped with the new Litening ER targeting pod. The pod provides the pilot with 640 x 512 pixel FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared) camera for night operations. This actually provides a pretty sharp picture on the small cockpit video display. For daytime, there is charge-coupled device television. For actual targeting there is a laser spot tracker/range finder, an IR (infrared) marker and a laser designator. The Litening, a 440 pound, $1.24 million pod that is slung underneath the wing like a bomb, has been very reliable, getting a 98 percent availability rate. Moreover, the Litening pods have proved easy to modify. The U.S. Marines modified one to communicate with nearby Predator UAVs and see what the UAVs video cam is seeing. The Israeli designed Litening is competing with the U.S. Air Force's own ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod), which is more expensive (at $1.5 million) and not yet available. This has spurred the ATP contractors to hustle and keep up with Litening. 

 


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