Rafael has confirmed that it is in the advanced stages of developing a fifth-generation version of its Litening targeting pod.

The new version is being developed with features that will facilitate its installation on large unmanned air systems, such as the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron TP.

Israel-based Rafael has so far sold well over 1,000 Litening pods to 27 customers around the world. According to its updated forecast, demand for the system will amount to at least 500 more over the next five to seven years.

The design is currently being evaluated by operators of the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen, and as part of the Indian air force's medium multi-role combat aircraft contest - which pits the Typhoon against the Dassault Rafale. It also could be integrated with the Brazilian air force's Embraer/Alenia AMX strike aircraft.

Rafael teamed up with Northrop Grumman to market the Litening pod in the USA market and in some other markets.

The company's current Litening G4 product uses a digital 1,024x1,024 pixel forward-looking infrared sensor and an improved TV sensor for daytime imaging. A data link system also enables it to receive data inputs from multiple sources, without requiring further modifications to the pod or host aircraft.

According to Rafael sources, the new version will have better range and resolution characteristics, and "be capable of producing more useful data from each image".

Source: Flight International