Initial evaluation of Northrop Grumman's improved Litening AT targeting pod has been completed at the US Air National Guard/Air Force reserve test centre in Tucson, Arizona. The AT is an upgrade of the Litening ER pod already in service on National Guard and Reserve Lockheed Martin F-16s.

Additional testing is planned for March and production of retrofit kits is to begin in the first quarter. The Italian and Spanish navies, which along with the US Marine Corps use the pod on the Boeing AV-8B, are considering upgrades, says Northrop Grumman. The improved pod, developed by Israel's Rafael, adds target co-ordinate generation and multi-target cueing and enhanced air-to-air capability.

The AT exploits the higher-resolution, 640 x 512 pixel forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera introduced with the Litening ER. Northrop Grumman says image processing improvements in the new pod will allow the pilot to make a visual identification before a beyond-visual-range air-to-air engagement, and even look into the civilian airliner cockpit during a security-related intercept.

Rafael is working on a higher-resolution FLIR and a laser-radar sensor to enhance target identification. The company is also looking at integrating radio-frequency geolocation and synthetic-aperture radar. There is also space in the pod for infrared countermeasures, says Northrop Grumman.

Source: Flight International