Coupling Rafael’s latest reconnaissance and targeting pods with scene-matching electro-optical-guided weapons enables air forces to tighten targeting cycles from days and hours to a few seconds.

Rafael (Static A8) is unveiling the Litening 5 at the Paris Air Show. The fifth generation of the targeting pod that defined this product category two decades ago is now capable of targeting from long range, enabling strike aircraft to employ guided weapons from standoff range without relying on external support.

Litening 5 employs a new sensor pack, utilizing an optical assembly and larger aperture tailored specifically for the new sensors, enabling the increased identification and recognition distance. The pod uses two FLIRS – a Mid-Wave Infra-Red (IR) and Short Wave IR (SWIR). The later extends observation range using active laser illumination. Complementing the sensor pack is a color CCD HD-TV, improving target recognition and separation of man-made objects that are often harder to spot in the thermal, monochromatic image. Color improves the ability to share a common understanding with ground forces and recognize specific vehicles based on their color. Images can be fused or displayed separately, based on the level of avionics used in the aircraft.

Rafael’s “image-based common targeting language,” also known as Matchguide, is integrated in the new pod. This allows rapid target handoff between the targeting pod or ground-based forward air controller and guided weapons carried on board. Matchguide is fully integrated in the Litening 5, enabling the pilot or ground controller to designate a target simply by touching its image on a display to deliver the targeting as coordinates or a scene to the attacking weapon. This method dramatically shortens the “sensor to shooter cycle.”

Rafael is also introducing a new version of its tactical reconnaissance pod, RecceLite XR, at the Paris Air Show. This multi-spectral, multi-role, real-time standoff reconnaissance system consists of an airborne pod, a wide digital datalink and a ground exploitation station.

Similar to the Litening 5, Reccelite XR received an enhanced sensor package comprising megapixel-size arrays of Near-Infra-Red (NIR), MWIR, panchromatic (color) sensors and SWIR. As with the Litening 5, SWIR adds a significant long-range performance, since its spectral band is the least affected by atmospheric absorption. The gimbaled payload enables stabilized photography, irrespective of aircraft maneuvers or deviation from flight route.

Litening 5 and Reccelite XR share many common assemblies and modules and are carried by similar aircraft, thus contributing to efficient operation and lower life cycle support costs. More than 1,500 Litening targeting and navigation pods are currently flying on dozens of platform types with more than 25 air forces worldwide. RecceLite is in operational service with 10 air forces.