Flight International online news 11:30 GMT: Northrop Grumman has been chosen as the preferred supplier of a state-of-the-art laser weapon targeting system for Australia’s Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft.

F/A- 18 Hornet - BIG

Having assessed several options, the Australian Ministry of Defence recommended the Litening pod manufactured by Northrop Grumman, with Rafael being a major subcontractor.

In all, three systems were assessed, including: the Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infra-Red pod manufactured by Raytheon and the Pantera pod manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

The Australian MOD says the Litening pods will improve its target detection, identification and damage assessment phases of F/A-18 air support operations.

The pods produce an image of the target area on a screen in the cockpit, similar to a black and white television picture. The pilot is then able to use this image to exactly designate the desired target, to maximise accuracy and minimise collateral damage. 

The target designation system also includes a laser system, allowing for the employment of precision laser-guided bombs.

The first squadron is expected to be equipped with the new system by early 2007.

ROSS BENTLEY/LONDON

Source: Flight International