Northrop Grumman‘s AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening advanced targeting pod has successfully recorded two million operating hours with users worldwide.

The pod maintained an availability rate of more than 98% through the use of a 24/7 worldwide support network, and logged more than 770,000 flight hours under combat conditions.

The AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening pod is a self-contained, multi-sensor system designed to enable pilots to detect, acquire, auto-track and identify targets at extremely long ranges for weapon delivery or non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

"Litening’s two million hours are a testament to both the effectiveness and the reliability of the system."

Northrop Grumman airborne tactical sensors business unit vice-president Jim Mocarski said: "Litening’s two million hours are a testament to both the effectiveness and the reliability of the system.

"Working side by side with our customers, we have developed the latest technologies in an affordable manner to keep the mission capability relevant."

US Air Force Litening programme manager David McCain said: "This is a significant milestone for the Litening programme and our team is proud to be part of that success.

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"We look forward to our continued partnership with Northrop Grumman, providing war-winning capability to our aircrews."

Delivering the latest advancements in sensor, laser imaging and data link technology, the pod includes high-definition video, 1K forward-looking infrared, charge-coupled device sensors, short wave infrared laser imaging, colour symbology, tracker improvements and enhanced zoom.

The advancements offer more precise target identification and location at longer ranges compared to previous generations of Litening pods, while reducing pilot workload.

To date, Northrop has delivered more than 700 Litening pods to the US Air Force, US Marine Corps and eight international customers, namely Israel, Spain, Italy, Australia, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland and Denmark.

The pods have been integrated onto eight different aircraft, including the AV-8B, A-10A/C, B-52H, EA-6Bs, F-15E, the F-16 Block 30, F-16 Block 40/50 and the F/A-18 Hornet.

Image: A Litening targeting pod mounted on a US Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. Photo: courtesy of the US Government.