Airbus Defence & Space is installing the Rafael Litening 5 targeting pod on one of its Eurofighter combat aircraft, and will offer the payload option to future clients.
Guy Oren, director of Rafael's electro-optical systems unit, says the Israeli-developed pod is now being installed. "That will be followed by an operational evaluation," he adds.
The Litening 5 will become fully operational at the end of 2016 and Oren reveals that the system has been already purchased by a European air force.
The new version has a large aperture colour CCD sensor that will enable the system to detect targets at "very long ranges", Rafael says. The Litening's infrared sensor is also being upgraded as part of the new model's development.
Oren says the enhancements mean that the new version is not only a targeting pod, but an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance system.
Rafael has not changed the pod's dimensions and form, making it easy to deploy on different types of aircraft. "The system is now carried on 25 different aircraft types," Oren notes.
Meanwhile, the miniaturisation of some of the components used in the pod has left two empty spaces, which Oren says will allow customers to incorporate dedicated, and in many cases classified, features.