“Harmony in combat”. This may sound like the ultimate contradiction, but when it comes to modern war tools, it is not.
Rafael has unveiled the joint operational capability of its Litening targeting pod with the company’s Spice smart bomb.
Last year the company confirmed it is in the advanced stages of developing the fifth-generation of its bestselling Litening targeting pod.
The new version is being developed with features that facilitate its installation on large unmanned air systems like the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron TP.
Rafael has so far sold well over 1,400 Litening pods to 27 customers around the world. These systems have accumulated over 2 million operational flight hours, most of them in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to an updated Rafael forecast, the demand for its Litening targeting pod in the next 5-7 years will amount to at least 500 systems.
The current 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 that enables it to receive a variety of data inputs from multiple sources, without further modifications to the pod or aircraft.
Rafael sources say 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 an advanced algorithm used for the task.
The sources reveal that in order to allow a fighter aircraft to hit targets of opportunity in addition to the pre-programmed ones, the targeting system can in update the Spice family of smart bombs in real-time.
As reported by Flight International, the Israeli air force (IAF) is equipping its fighter fleet with the Rafael Spice 250 gliding bomb.
Partial specifics of the advanced weapon system have been unveiled. Unlike previous members of the Spice family – that came in kit form and were attached to 1,000-2,000lb bombs – this time the Israeli company is supplying a complete system.
The Spice 250 can be loaded with 100 optional targets in a given area.
The image-matching sensor of the Spice gives it a circular error probable of less than 3m. The basic Spice is used on MK-84 2,000lb bombs, and gives the weapon a range of over 32nm (60km). This version is operational with the IAF and was used in combat.
The kit has been adapted to Mk-83 1,000lb bombs, and offers a 540nm range.
The Spice’s deployable wings also allow an aircraft to carry more bombs. The weapon is navigated by a GPS/INS satellite/inertial navigation system.
Spice 250 enables impact point updates after release, using its communication module. In addition, it provides battle damage indication capabilities by transmitting the target image just before impact.
The weapon is released outside the target zone, and performs mid-course navigation autonomously using its INS/GPS. While approaching the target, a scene-matching algorithm compares the electro-optical image received in real time via the weapon seeker with mission reference data stored in the weapon computer memory.
And so, harmony is achieved in the sky when a fighter aircraft is on a combat mission and targets pop up that have to be destroyed.
The intimate conversation between the onboard sensors and the weapon systems is seen by many experts as a key element for performing attacks in a fast-changing combat scenario. The conversation that takes place between Litening and Spice is a good example, but all signs show it will be joined by others.