Rafael is considering adapting its Litening targeting pod for use on platforms like the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which require such equipment and weapons to be carried internally to maintain their stealth performance.
The Israeli company will not elaborate on the effort, but says it is an "expected evolution" for the proven Litening design, more than 1,400 of which have been sold by it and its US partner Northrop Grumman.
Rafael is competing on two tenders for targeting pods, which a company source says hold the potential to bring the total number of pods delivered to 2,000 "in five years from now".
Other business is coming in the form of high demand to provide upgrades for previous examples of the Litening, the source says, noting: "The system is modular, so we can upgrade it relatively easily with [new] sensors and electronics."
In 2011, Rafael confirmed it was in the advanced stages of developing a fifth-generation version of the Litening pod, with the new iteration to have features that will facilitate its installation on large unmanned air systems such as the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron TP.
The current Litening G4 includes a digital forward-looking infrared sensor and an improved TV sensor for daytime imaging, and a datalink that enables the system to receive a variety of inputs from multiple sources.
Rafael says increased demand for the Litening stems from the operational need to gain a "persistent wide-area look" on the ground, and to have the best capability to use precision-guided weapons against the right targets.
Source: Flight International