Home Forum Shop Alumni
Weapon - Recce/Targeting - Litening III targeting pod

Weapon Stats:

Length: 2.20 m, 7.22 ft
Diameter: 40.6 cm, 15.98 ft
Weight: 200 kg, 441 lb
Gripen C, Gripen D

Litening III targeting pod

Status: Current
Category: Recce/Targeting

The Litening, launched by Israel's Research and Development authority RAFAEL in 1992, combines multiple sensors for maximum flexibility in a single pod at low cost.

The Litening externally mounted targeting pod is a precision targeting pod system which significantly increases the combat effectiveness of an aircraft during day, night and under-the-weather conditions in the attack of ground targets with a variety of standoff weapons (i.e., laser guided bombs, conventional bombs and GPS-guided weapons).

The targeting pod contains a high-resolution, forward-looking infrared sensor (FLIR) that displays an infrared image of the target to the aircrew; it has a wide field of view search capability and a narrow field of view acquisition/targeting capability of battlefield-sized targets. The pod also contains a charged coupled device (CCD-TV) camera used to obtain target imagery in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. An on-gimbal inertial navigation sensor has established line-of-sight and automatic boresighting capability.

The pod is equipped with a laser designator for precise delivery of laser-guided munitions, a laser rangefinder provides information for various avionics systems, for example, navigation updates, weapon deliveries and target updates. The targeting pod includes an automatic target tracker to provide fully automatic stabilized target tracking at altitudes, airspeeds and slant ranges consistent with tactical weapon delivery maneuvers. These features simplify the functions of target detection and recognition, and permit attack of targets with precision-guided weapons on a single pass.

The original Litening pod was launched by Israel's Research and Development authority RAFAEL in 1992.

The integrated array enabled the pilot to effectively detect, recognize, identify, track and engage ground targets in day, night and under adverse weather conditions. With the pod's systems they can designate such targets by laser, for attack by other aircraft or by precision guided weapons carried on board. The pod integrates the necessary laser rangefinder and designator, required for the delivery of Laser Guided Bombs, cluster and general purpose bombs. Laser spot detection is utilized in cooperative missions, for rapid orientation, detection and recognition of targets, marked by other forces. Identification of aerial targets from BVR ranges is also provided with the INS assisted gimbaled sensors, as the sensors can continuously point to the target's direction, irrelevant to the aircraft position, or interference of clouds or obscurants. This combination also enables employment of the sensors in "point of interest" mode, where LITENING enables free maneuvering during and after the attack path, while maintaining the target clearly visible and marked for precision attack. The same sensors can provide imagery for night navigation as well as hit verification and battle damage assessment after the attack.

The evolution of the Litening pod continued with the Litening III version, which utilized a more capable Gen III (3-5micron) FLIR, with a 640x480 digital detectors array. This system is also equipped with a target marker, which improves the coordination of ground and air forces, by designation of targets by day or night. Litening III system is also equipped with a dual-wavelength diode-pumped laser, which is compatible with training (eyesafe) and wartime operational modes. The system also employs electronic image stabilization, to provide cleaner images of targets, acquired at long standoff range.

The Zeiss Optronik sourced Litening III pod has been selected for South Africa's Grippens. The FLIR image produced by the Litening pod can overlay the real world in Gripen's wide-angle diffractive optics head-up display. The pod will be fitted to the side fuselage pylon and will not reduce Gripen's ability to carry a heavy and varied load of air-to-air or air-to-surface missiles. It also provides laser designator and rangefinder capabilities for new-generation 'smart' laser guided bombs.

Litening III Specifications:
Operational altitude: +40,000
IR Sensor:  640x480 FPA Mid-IR wavelength
Daylight sensor: CCDTV
Wide FOV: 18.4 x 24.1
medium FOV:  3.5x3.5
Narrow field of view: 1x1
Field of regard:  +45 / -150
Roll: +/- 400
Laser: Diode pumped laser designator, dual wavelength
Laser spot tracker  
IR target marker  


Gripen D '07' at Durban International Airport in November 2009, carrying a Litening III pod. Photo: Gary Shepard. Litening III pod on Gripen D 3901 in 2012. Litening III pod on Gripen D 3901 in 2012. Litening III pod on Gripen D 3901 in 2012.