The US Marine Corps (USMC) has decided to equip its Boeing AV-8B Harriers with the Northrop Grumman/Rafael Litening II targeting pod as part of a tripartite deal that includes similarly equipping the Italian and Spanish navies' Harrier fleets.

US prime contractor Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $24.5 million contract to supply the USMC with an initial nine Litening IIs and the foreign military sale of four pods to Italy and two for Spain. The USMC needs 56 pods to equip half of its AV-8Bs.

Litening II is already partially integrated with the AV-8B using the Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick missile interface, head-down display and the pod's onboard software as the result of a demonstration last year. The USMC purchase is packaged as part of a larger ongoing acquisition of 64 Litening II pods for the Air National Guard (ANG)and 32 for the Air Force Reserve to equip Lockheed Martin F-16s.

The ANG plans to buy 100 more pods for its F-16s and has completed a fit check of the Litening II on the Fairchild A/OA-10. The service wants to equip the strike aircraft with a laser targeting pod as part of a larger avionics and powerplant upgrade.

Source: Flight International