The next generation of Rafael’s Litening targeting pod will be able to operate in an air-to-air mode, helping to identify targets that have been previously detected by a fighter’s radar.

Yuval Miller, executive vice-president and head of the Israeli company’s Air and C4I Systems division, says the Litening 4 design has been upgraded with better daylight and infrared visual capabilities. “The CCD is a colour sensor that also helps in identifying targets on the ground – especially in dense areas,” he says.

According to Miller, the new version will be not only a targeting pod, but will also serve as an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance system, and will feature a datalink function to share and receive information with other assets.

Earlier versions of the Litening pod are now being used by 30 customers around the world with more than 1,500 examples supplied, Miller says.

The fourth-generation product is now being offered by Rafael and its partner Northrop Grumman to equip the US Navy’s Boeing F/A-18s.

Dubbed “G-5” by the US company and G-4 Advanced by Rafael, the next iteration of the system was given an initial demonstration for the navy late last year and additional demonstrations are scheduled for this year.

The USN is expected to issue a formal request for proposals for its targeting pod requirement later this year, seeking the supply of 300 units. A selection decision is likely by the beginning of 2016.

Earlier versions of the Litening are already used by the USN and US Marine Corps.