A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft
The US Air National Guard (ANG) has equipped its A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Block 30 aircraft with Northrop Grumman-supplied Litening G4 advanced targeting pods to conduct missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

This is the first combat deployment of the pod to Afghanistan and will provide the ANG with advanced capabilities to complete missions in a wide range of conditions encountered in theatre.

The Litening G4 pod is a fifth-generation targeting and surveillance system designed to deliver unsurpassed imagery using 1K forward-looking infrared (FLIR), 1K charge-coupled device (CCD) sensors, and wider field of view and enhanced zoom capability.

The pod features significant enhancements in terms of both recognition range and image quality and delivers more precise target identification and location at longer ranges for battlefield conditions as opposed to the previous generations Litening targeting pods systems.

Northrop Grumman Litening programme vice president, Jim Mocarski, said: "G4’s 1K sensors and laser imaging allow the warfighter to see targets that would have been undetected with earlier targeting systems."

The system is also equipped with laser target imaging program (LTIP), employing a short wave infrared (SWIR) laser augmented imaging, to enhance the targeting system’s capability to capture images in situations where medium-wave infrared (MWIR), forward-looking infrared and CCD are ineffective.

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The Litening Gen 4 technology and capability is also available in a kit form that enables users to upgrade their currently fielded Litening pods to this new and advanced configuration.

Last year the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center (AATC), along with the 177th Fighter Wing, tested the targeting pod system to evaluate its flight hours and also completed the operational utility evaluation (OUE) to verify suitability for the F-16 Block 30 mission areas.

The pods are also in service with the Israeli Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, Finnish Air Force, Portuguese Air Force, US Marine Corps, and the Italian and Spanish Navies.


Image: US Air National Guard equips A-10 Thunderbolt with Northrop Grumman-built LITENING G4 advanced targeting pods.