Nov 15 2007
Northrop Grumman Corporation has received a contract to develop and deliver the latest generation of data links for its LITENING Advanced Targeting (AT) pod from the U.S. Air Force Materiel Command's Aeronautical Systems Center, as the executive procurement agency for the Air Combat Command, Air Force Reserve Command, Air National Guard, U.S. Marine Corps and coalition forces.
Under the terms of the $18 million contract, Northrop Grumman's Defensive Systems Division will deliver in excess of 201 new data links to be fielded on a variety of aircraft beginning in September 2008 and continuing through January 2010.
The new data link, known as Plug & Play II, is the first to feature multiple frequencies while retaining compatibility with the ROVER portable receiving station used by both U.S. and coalition ground forces. In addition, Plug & Play II provides a new high capacity digital recording capability for both video and metadata collected during a mission and can include two-way data transfer functionality with an onboard server to support network operations.
"LITENING was the first targeting pod to incorporate a video downlink and currently there are more such Northrop Grumman pods fielded than any competitor systems," said Mike Lennon, vice president of Targeting and Surveillance programs at Northrop Grumman's Defensive Systems Division. "Plug & Play II takes prior data link technology to the next step with more flexible communication paths, unprecedented onboard storage capacity and the ability to support net-centric operations, which are increasingly important to non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions."
The fourth generation version of LITENING, which is currently in development, will feature the most advanced 1024 x 1024 pixels (1k x 1k) FLIR sensor for improved target detection and recognition ranges under day/night conditions; new two-way data links and other networking capabilities to enable improved communications between ground-based and airborne forces; new sensors for improved target identification; and advanced target recognition and identification features. Additional product improvements already incorporated into LITENING as part of the fourth generation version include a new 1k charge-coupled device sensor, which provides improved target detection and recognition ranges under daylight conditions.
To date, almost 500 LITENING AT pods have been ordered by the U.S. forces and allied nations. More than 400 of these systems have been fielded, the largest number of any advanced targeting and sensor system. LITENING AT is combat proven on a wide variety of aircraft to include the AV-8B, A-10, B-52H, F-15E, F-16 and F/A-18C/D. Together, all variants of the LITENING pod have amassed more than 750,000 flight hours, more than half of which have been logged under deployed and combat conditions.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 billion global defense and technology company whose 20,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.