One of the primary lessons learned from the Gulf War was that modern air forces need the ability to operate 24 hours a day in adverse weather conditions and to deliver precision guided weapons. In Desert Storm, aircraft using precision weapons typically destroyed with just two bombs targets which in World War II required 9,000 bombs and in Vietnam 300. The pods used in Desert Storm were expensive, single purpose systems which required multiple pods to perform various missions. Until LITENING, no system incorporated in a single pod all the features required by a modern air force. LITENING, however, combines multiple sensors for maximum flexibility in a single pod at low cost.LITENING is an advanced airborne infrared targeting and navigation pod. Designed to improve both day and night attack capabilities, LITENING presents pilots with real-time, FLIR and CCD imagery. It is fully operational 24 hours a day and in adverse weather conditions.
LITENING design enables the fighter air crew to carry out the following missions/tasks:
In order to accomplish all these tasks, LITENING employs 5 main sensors located on a single optical bench in the forward section of LITENING:
LITENING uses a high performance FLIR with 3 Fields of View. The wide FOV is displayed on the head-up for navigation while Medium and Narrow FOVs are used for target selection and are displayed on a heads-down display.
The CCD camera significantly improves daytime performance when compared to the FLIR selection.
Laser designator / range-finder
LITENING uses a 100 mJ laser to designate targets selected by the air crews and provides guidance to the Laser Guided Bomb.
Laser spot designator
The laser spot detector detects the laser energy from a secondary source, enabling ground or airborne Forward Air Controllers to designate the targets for the fighter aircraft. This feature is not present in any of the competitor pods.
The SDS aligns LITENING to the aircraft line-of-sight electronically, improves target tracking and stabilizes the seeker.
All these sensors incorporated in a single pod provide the fighter aircrew with the flexibility to perform multiple missions and make LITENING the most cost effective solution available.