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LITENING Pod mounted underneath a USMC F/A-18.

The AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING targeting pod is a precision targeting pod system currently operational with a wide variety of combat aircraft. LITENING significantly increases the combat effectiveness of the aircraft during day, night and under-the-weather conditions in the attack of ground and air[1] targets with a variety of standoff weapons (i.e., laser guided bombs, conventional bombs and GPS-guided weapons). The system was designed in Israel.



LITENING is a targeting pod integrated and mounted externally to the aircraft. The targeting pod contains a high-resolution, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor that displays an infrared image of the target to the aircrew; it has a wide field of view search capability and a narrow field of view acquisition/targeting capability of battlefield-sized targets. The pod also contains a CCD camera used to obtain target imagery in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. An on-gimbal inertial navigation sensor has established line-of-sight and automatic boresighting capability.

The pod is equipped with a laser designator for precise delivery of laser-guided munitions, a laser rangefinder provides information for various avionics systems, for example, navigation updates, weapon deliveries and target updates. The targeting pod includes an automatic target tracker to provide fully automatic stabilized target tracking at altitudes, airspeeds and slant ranges consistent with tactical weapon delivery maneuvers. These features simplify the functions of target detection and recognition, and permit attack of targets with precision-guided weapons on a single pass.


The research and development program began at Rafael Corporation's Missiles Division in Haifa, Israel, with subsequent completion of LITENING I for use in the Israeli Air Force. In 1995 Northrop Grumman Corporation's teamed with Rafael for further development and sales of the LITENING pod.



Northrop Grumman Corporation completed product improvements on the "Basic Pod" including a third generation FLIR, laser marker and software upgrades (LITENING II) which was fielded beginning in 1999.

Northrop Grumman subsequently replaced the "320x256" FLIR with a latest technology "640x512" FLIR. This pod, known as LITENING ER, extended the target detection range and was fielded in 2001. The newest version, LITENING AT, is in production and was fielded in 2003. It further extends target detection and recognition ranges, improves the target coordinate generation accuracy, and provides multi-target cueing.[2]

LITENING AT features a plug-and-play bay configured to accept a wide variety of data-links and recorders. Plug and Play II data-link capability offers warfighters increased range, digital data recording and an option to incorporate secure, two-way communications over ultra-high frequency (UHF) radios. LITENING's Plug and Play I, introduced in 2003, was the first data-link to be incorporated in a third generation targeting pod. [3]


LITENING G4, planned for delivery to U.S. forces this year, will add new sensors for improved target identification and other advanced target recognition and identification features. The LITENING G4 provides significant enhancements in terms of both recognition range and image quality.[4] The LITENING Gen 4 technology and capability is also available in a kit form that allows users to upgrade their currently fielded LITENING pods.

General characteristics

Primary function: Navigation and infrared/electro-optical targeting
Prime Contractor: Rafael Corporation/Northrop Grumman
Length: 87 in (2.20 m)
Diameter: 16 in (0.406 m)
Weight: 440 lb (200 kg)
Aircraft: A-10, B-52H, F-14A/B/D, F-15E/D, AV-8B, F-18, F-16 Block 25/30/40/50, F-4E AUP
Sensors: Infrared detector, CCD-TV camera, laser rangefinder and laser designator
Date Deployed: February 2000
Unit Cost: $1.4 million
Competitive Device: Lockheed Martin Sniper XR targeting pod

Simulation and Training solutions


Brazilian Air Force

Chilean Air Force

Finnish Air Force



Israeli Air Force

Indian Air Force


Litening II Pods supplied by Rafael/Zeiss Optronik joint venture

Litening III pods to be used on the Eurofighter aircraft.

Italian Navy

Hellenic Air Force

Hungarian Air Force

Portuguese Air Force

Romanian Air Force

Royal Air Force

Litening III RD & EF pods supplied by Ultra Electronics Limited

Republic of Singapore Air Force

Royal Netherlands Air Force

Spanish Air Force/Navy

South African Air Force

Venezuelan Air Force

Comparable Systems



  1. ^ AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING Low Risk, Next Generation Targeting Pod
  2. ^ U.S. Air Force Factsheet: LITENING II/ER/AT
  3. ^ Northrop Grumman Northrop Grumman Delivers New Advanced Data-Link to U.S. Marine Corps for LITENING Targeting Pods [1]
  4. ^ Northrop Grumman Receives $120 Million Order to Supply LITENING Gen 4 Targeting Sensor Systems [2]
  5. ^ Northrop Grumman to Upgrade Portuguese Air Force F-16s With LITENING AT:
  6. ^ Singapore’s RSAF also uses it (L-III on its F-16 fleet), though it has selected Lockheed’s Sniper pod to equip its F-15SGs, and will add Sniper ATPs to its F-16 Block 52+ aircraft as well.

This article contains information that originally came from a U.S. Government website, in the public domain.


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