The Litening targeting pod answers the needs of every fighter pilot in the world. It is based on the vast experience of the Israeli air force (IAF), and has become a bestseller for the Israeli defence industry, with well over 1,200 systems sold to a great number of air forces
Now, the capabilities of the next-generation Litening pod have resulted in massive upgrade contracts for older versions.
A senior Rafael source said on 10 March that the number of upgraded systems is equivalent to the number of the current fourth-generation sales.
Last year, Rafael confirmed it is in the advanced stages of developing the fifth generation of the pod.
The new version is being developed with features that will facilitate its installation on large unmanned air systems, like the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron-TP.
Rafael has so far sold well over 1,200 Litening pods to 27 customers around the world.
According to an updated Rafael forecast, demand for its Litening pod in the next 5-7 years will amount to at least 500 systems.
According to Rafael, the Litening is currently being evaluated by operators of Eurofighter and Grippen fighter aircraft, by the Indian air force for its new fighters and for the Brazilian ALX.
Rafael has teamed up with Northrop Grumman to market the Litening in the US market and in some other markets. This team is also responsible for ongoing system upgrades in the US.
The current-model LITENING G4 includes a full digital 1024×1024 pixel forward-looking infrared sensor and an improved TV sensor for daytime imaging.
The G4 has been equipped with a datalink system that enables the pilot to receive a variety of data input from multiple sources, without further modifications to the pod or aircraft.
The Rafael source says the increasing demand for the Litening stems from the operational need to gain a "persistent wide area look" on the ground.
This capability has been enabled by new hardware and by advanced algorithms designed for the task.