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Case Study: Remote Information Access for Christian Aid

Naval Technology - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 17:46
By providing remote aid operations with improved access to information, iOra's Geo-Replicator helps Christian Aid be more agile and responsive to local needs enabling it to deliver more effective development work worldwide.
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

German Navy qualifies RBS15 Mk 3 anti-ship missile

Jane's Defense News - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 14:00
The German Navy has formally qualified the Saab Dynamics/Diehl Defence RBS15 Mk 3 anti-ship missile following a successful operational flight test off the coast of Sweden. Performed from the K130 corvette Magdeburg on 28 April 2015, the end-to-end test - undertaken on the Swedish Defence Materiel
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

KBM says Verba MANPADS now being sold internationally

Jane's Defense News - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 14:00
Russian defence company KBM officially unveiled its new-generation 9K333 Verba (Willow) manportable air defence system (MANPADS) during the Army-2015 international forum and declared for the first time that it has been cleared for export sales. "The export of Verbas is permitted and we have
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Paris Air Show 2015: Aeronautics debuts first loitering munition

Jane's Defense News - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 14:00
Israeli unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) house, Aeronautics, unveiled its initial offering for the loitering weapon systems market - the Orbiter 1K (Kingfisher) - at the 2015 Paris Air Show. Currently in the final stages of development, Orbiter 1K (Kingfisher) is derived from Aeronautics'
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Planned deployment of US heavy weaponry in Baltics could prompt Russian military drills and build-up along border

Jane's Defense News - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 14:00
EVENT The US and Lithuanian governments signed an agreement on 17 June, setting the terms of the proposed stationing of US forces and weapons on Lithuanian soil to facilitate the United States-funded upgrade of the Lithuanian military infrastructure (specifically, the Siauliai airbase, Rukla
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Athena Mechanism joins EU SatCom Market

EDA News - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 12:08

Athena Administrator Hans-Werner Grenzhäuser today signed the declaration to join the EU SatCom Market, an ad hoc project of the European Defence Agency.

Speaking about the cooperation, Hans-Werner Grenzhäuser said: “As part of the ongoing efforts to improve the procurement process of the different operations, I am convinced that Athena will benefit from its participation in this already existing mechanism with several other EU Member States being able to pool the purchase of satellite communications and related services through the European Defence Agency.

EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq added: “With Athena now part of the EU SatCom Market project, CSDP military operations will benefit from an easier procurement process thanks to the framework already in place, instead of using ad hoc outsourcing. The foreseen additional use of this pooled procurement initiative will increase the pooling and sharing effect, while making the project more attractive to the service providers.

EU SatCom Market

Within the EU SatCom Market project, EDA acts as the central purchasing body on behalf of the contributing members. It purchases the services from a commercial provider. Airbus Defence & Space holds the current contract. Since May 2013, more than 20 orders have been placed for a total value of almost €4 million. So far, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and the United Kingdom are part of the EU SatCom Market.

The project uses a ‘pay-per-use’ model, so members do not have to contribute with a regular fee, instead they only pay for what they order. Under the arrangement with Athena all present and future EU-led military operations will be able to draw this option to cover their SatCom requirements.

The Athena Mechanism

Athena is the mechanism established to administer the financing of the common costs of European Union operations having military or defence implications governed by Council Decision 2015/528/CFSP. The Council Decision allows for arrangements to be signed with union bodies to facilitate procurement in operations in the most cost-effective manner.

More information



Categories: Defence`s Feeds

High-level Group of Personalities on defence research issues statement

EDA News - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 11:52

The European Commission has recently set up a high level group of politicians, academics, think tankers and CEOs from research technology organisations and defence industry to advise on how the EU can support defence research programmes relevant to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

Working on a tasking from the December 2013 European Council, the European Defence Agency is bringing its expertise to this work strand through the organisation of workshops with the Commission and the discussion of modalities related to the future Pilot Project on CSDP Research.

The High-level Group is chaired by Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska and supported by the High Representative, Commission Vice-President and Head of the European Defence Agency Federica Mogherini – who has been represented by EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq in the Group of Personalities. It is expected to make recommendations for a long-term vision for EU-funded CSDP-related defence research in support of European defence cooperation.

While the Group will report in full in early 2016, it offers now the following considerations as a preliminary contribution in the run up to the June 2015 European Council.

Official Statement by the Group of Personalities on defence research


The EU's security role and the need for a strong EDTIB

To ensure its long-term security, the EU and its Member States need political will and determination underpinned by a broad set of relevant instruments, including strong and modern military capabilities. These will enable the EU to live up to its responsibilities as a security provider and to be a relevant and reliable partner at global level. Investing today in future-oriented defence research programmes is crucial to developing the capabilities that will be required tomorrow.

It is widely recognised that Europe needs to retain robust military capabilities in its Member States, which, however, can no longer afford to sustain a full range of defence industrial assets on a purely national basis. Years of defence spending cuts by EU countries risk producing a net loss of combined military and industrial capabilities. And while defence-related research is pivotal in maintaining the technological edge that ensures military advantage, European investment in defence R&D has declined by more than 29 % since 2006 – and by more than 27 % in R&T.

The European defence industry needs therefore to become more integrated and more sustainable in order to maintain critical mass and global competitiveness, to remain an equal and attractive partner internationally, and to generate the key defence technologies needed to ensure Europe’s long-term operational autonomy. A common understanding of the capability-driven research areas that should be developed cooperatively - and of the ways to identify and select them - will be required, taking into account all existing processes at EU level.

The role of future collaborative programmes in addressing capability gaps

Cooperative defence research programmes will clearly be essential for sustaining and fostering key military capabilities in Europe and addressing well-known shortfalls. Currently, however, only 8% of national defence budgets are spent on collaborative projects.

The Preparatory Action and its follow-on programme can contribute significantly to the development of crucial military capabilities for Europe and help ensure the sustainability and competitiveness of the European defence industrial sector - from prime contractor level through to SMEs - thus also underpinning the Union’s long-term security.

The Preparatory Action should therefore pave the way to a substantial and ambitious CSDP-related defence research programme in the next EU multi-annual funding framework, thus making a quantitative and qualitative difference to the current situation and demonstrating the added value of a permanent EU scheme.

Key principles for EU-funded CSDP-related defence research

The future research programme must be clearly defence-oriented, coherent with and complementary to existing national defence research efforts, and must take fully into account the unique aspects of the defence sector in its governance principles and modalities.

It must help address specific capability needs stemming from the evolving security environment, avoid duplications, and catalyse collaborative research efforts.

The Preparatory Action needs to properly test the effectiveness and relevance of EU-funded defence research and the appropriateness of the proposed governance model. As such, it should be endowed with appropriate and credible means – preferably up to the maximum budget allowed by the legal framework.


  • Fernando Abril-Martorell, CEO Indra;
  • Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs;
  • Antoine Bouvier, CEO MBDA;
  • Håkan Buskhe, CEO of Saab;
  • Paul de Krom, former secretary of State for Social Affairs and Employment, President and CEO of TNO, a Dutch organization of applied scientific research
  • Tom Enders, CEO Airbus Group;
  • Michael Gahler, MEP, EP rapporteur for Commission's communication on defence;
  • Elisabeth Guigou, President of the Foreign Affairs Commission in l'Assamblée Nationale, former Minister of European Affairs, of Justice and of Employment;
  • Ian King, Chief Executive BAE Systems;
  • Bogdan Klich, former Minister of Defence, member of Polish Senate;
  • Mauro Moretti, CEO Finmeccanica;
  • Reimund Neugebauer, President of the "Frauenhofer-Gesellschaft", application-oriented research organisation;
  • Arndt Schoenemann, Managing Director of Liebherr-Aerospace Lindenberg GmbH, Chairman of ASD Supply Chain and SME Group;
  • Teija Tiilikainen, Director of Finnish Institute of International Affairs;
  • Nick Witney, former EDA Chief Executive, senior policy fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

More information

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Video of a committee meeting - Wednesday, 17 June 2015 - 16:15 - Subcommittee on Security and Defence

Length of video : 124'
You may manually download this video in WMV (1.1Gb) format

Disclaimer : The interpretation of debates serves to facilitate communication and does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. Only the original speech or the revised written translation is authentic.
Source : © European Union, 2015 - EP

Video of a committee meeting - Wednesday, 17 June 2015 - 15:03 - Subcommittee on Security and Defence - Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection - Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

Length of video : 68'
You may manually download this video in WMV (825Mb) format

Disclaimer : The interpretation of debates serves to facilitate communication and does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. Only the original speech or the revised written translation is authentic.
Source : © European Union, 2015 - EP

Telephonics announces successful US Army DVE test

Jane's Defense News - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 10:00
A US Army-sponsored Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) test event held at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona in February yielded positive results for Telephonics, the company announced in a 16 June press statement. DVEs include smoke, fog, rain, darkness, and brownout, and are a leading contributor to
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Colombian Navy commissions new landing craft

Jane's Defense News - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 08:00
Key Points Colombian Navy commissions second locally designed and built landing craft utility vessel Development is part of the navy's force development plan for recapitalising its fleet The Colombian Navy has commissioned a new landing craft utility (LCU) vessel, ARC Golfo de Urabá (pennant
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Paris Air Show 2015: China close to first FTC-2000 supersonic trainer sale in Africa

Jane's Defense News - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 08:00
China has signed a preliminary contract with an African country for the first sale of its low-cost Chengdu/Guizhou FTC-2000 supersonic trainer. First revealed as a private initiative by Guizhou Aircraft Industries Corporation at the 2001 Zhuhai Airshow, the FTC-2000 combines the engine, empennage,
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

EMALS Glitches in Front of Press | France Mulls C-130Js | Jordan Too Buys Sniper Pods

Defense Industry Daily - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 07:25
North America

South America

  • Russia will deliver nine helicopters to Peru next month, following a $400 million contract for the 24 Mi-171Sh helicopters in December 2013 and a first batch delivery at the tail-end of last year. Previous reports from March indicated that the number of helicopters still to be delivered stood at fifteen, with the Russian manufacturer also reportedly set to open a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) center in the South American country to support its new helicopter fleet. Russia has also been angling to provide an upgrade program for Peru’s T-55 tanks.


  • Lockheed Martin and French defense officials are reportedly in discussions regarding a potential procurement of C-130J aircraft. The country’s defense ministry augmented its procurement budget last month to cover the potential purchase, with reports from earlier this year [French] stating that the country was in negotiations with Lockheed Martin regarding a deal estimated to be worth $670 million; however the French procurement agency DGA subsequently refuted these claims.

  • French firm Thales and Textron AirLand announced Wednesday that they have successfully integrated the former’s I-Master radar onto the latter’s low-cost light attack Scorpion jet. The radar also scored export success to Jordan this week, following a 2014 contract to equip the country’s fleet of AC-235 aircraft. The Scorpion has recently been pushed at India, with other possible customers spread globally, including several African and Asian states.

  • The Scorpion is also reportedly set to head to the United Kingdom’s naval aviation service, the Fleet Air Arm, for trials and flight demonstrations. These will take place over a period of ten days, with the jets also scheduled to undergo demonstrations at defense firm QinetiQ’s pilot training center. QinetiQ provides pilot training services to the UK Armed Forces, as well as to civilians.

Middle East

  • Lockheed Martin has been contracted to supply ten Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, with the country currently engaged in airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. The company was awarded a $485 million contract by the US Air Force in March, with a portion of this allocated for Foreign Military Sales. Jordan become the sixteenth Sniper ATP customer in 2013.


Today’s Video

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

ATP-SE: LITENING Targeting Pods Now Feature ‘Gen-5′

Defense Industry Daily - Thu, 18/06/2015 - 02:45
Sniper on F-16
(click to view full)

At the end of September 2010, the USAF dropped something of a bombshell. Under their $2.3 billion Advanced Targeting Pod – Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) contract, the service that had begun standardizing on one future surveillance and targeting pod type decided to change course, and split its buys.

This decision is a huge breakthrough for Northrop Grumman, whose LITENING pod had lost the USAF’s initial 2001 Advanced Targeting Pod competition. As a result of that competition, the USAF’s buys had shifted from LITENING to Sniper pods, and Lockheed Martin’s Sniper became the pod of choice for integration onto new USAF platforms. Since then, both of these pods have chalked up procurement wins around the world, and both manufacturers kept improving their products. That continued competition would eventually change the landscape once again.

In January 2015, Rafael announced that their upcoming upgrade that they call G-4 Advanced outside the U.S., and “G-5″ for the Americans will have air-to-air targeting capabilities.

In addition to more diverse targeting, the pods are said to feature inter-asset communications and sensor sharing capabilities – in essence some of the whiz-bang features touted in the F-35 platform that is supposed to push the F/A-18 into obsolescence.

ATP-SE: Evolution in Action British Harrier GR9,
over Afghanistan
(click to view full)

In Desert Storm, aircraft using precision weapons typically used just 2 bombs to destroy targets which would have required 9,000 bombs in World War II, and 300 in Vietnam. The targeting pods used in Desert Storm were expensive single purpose systems, however, which required multiple pods to perform various missions. The Laser Infrared Targeting and Navigating (LITENING) pod changed that in 1992, combining multiple sensors for maximum flexibility in a single pod, at comparatively low cost.

That combination made LITENING popular, and a partnership between RAFAEL and Northrop Grumman extended its reach. Between the 2 firms, LITENING was sold to customers around the world, including the US military. Other pods eventually followed in its footsteps: Raytheon’s ATFLIR became the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet’s designated pod within the US Navy, and Lockheed Martin took a big step forward when its Sniper/Pantera pod won the USAF’s 2001 competition. Then all targeting pods took a big step forward after the 9/11 attacks, as they proved their effectiveness so well that troops and air forces alike began clamoring for more. For older fighters, an advanced surveillance and targeting pod became the ultimate accessory. For newer fighter designs, targeting pods’ fast improvements and quick-change modularity have made them a standard fixture.

At the moment, core sensors on modern pods include a day camera, thermal imaging, laser rangefinding, laser designator, laser spot detection, inertial navigation, and GPS geolocation. This integrated array enables a pilot to effectively detect, recognize, identify, track and engage ground targets in day, night and under adverse weather conditions. Modern pods are so good that they’ve been used to watch individual people enter or exit a building.

(click to view full)

While the USAF was progressively standardizing on the AN/AAQ-33 Sniper, the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard continued to be steady AN/AAQ-28 LITENING AT customers, alongside the US Marines. Northrop Grumman’s approach of steady improvement gave them an opportunity to show those customers the new G4 pod they had been developing. Interest apparently spread to the USAF, as they were brought into flight testing by US Air Force Reserve Command.

With the 2001 ATP contract expiring in 2009, the USAF decided to compete the follow-on order. Work on an RFP that could result in a new competitive landscape for targeting pods began in April 2008. The USAF hasn’t discussed its motives publicly, but new technological developments were given added impetus by the acquisition reforms that surfaced in December 2008. These aimed to institutionalize more competition for ongoing contracts, and the ATP-SE framework fits that mold.

By August 2009 the USAF had issued a draft RFP, with the formal ATP-SE RFP issued in January 2010. The split order was issued in September 2010.

Note that these pods’ modular construction means that existing LITENING AT pods can be upgraded to G4/SE status, and existing Sniper ATPs can be enhanced to the SE configuration. The Air Force’s ATP-SE contract doesn’t include upgrade kits at this point, however, just complete pods. The US military appears to have chosen to buy SE configuration upgrade kits under other contracts (vid Aug 29/09, Nov 7/11 entries) instead, and could modify its ATP-SE umbrella contract if it wished.

ATP-SE: The Competitors

Raytheon’s ATFLIR is only integrated with Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, and foreign options like the Damocles pod by France’s Thales suffer from the same integration limitations. That left only 2 realistic contenders for the USAF’s ATP-SE.

Lockheed Martin’s Aerial Sniper CF-18 w. Sniper
(click to view full)

Lockheed Martin’s AN/AAQ-33 Sniper ATP was designed to be a major step-change from the firm’s twin-pod LANTIRN systems, making use of a low radar signature profile and an advanced array of sensors and electronics, in order to offer longer range detection and identification. It also has an important time and money-saving feature: a sort of universal interface, which self-detects the plane type it’s on and automatically load the appropriate Operational Flight Program. It’s a simple change that saves a lot of money on testing and re-certiciation, as shown by the structure of the respective ATP-SE contracts.

Sniper ATP has also won competitions on straight performance. The British, for instance, explicitly cited the pod’s stand off detection and identification ranges as the reason they chose to equip their Harriers with Sniper pods for Afghan missions, rather than buy more of the LITENING-III pods that already equipped their Tornado and Eurofighter jets.

Key changes to the ATP-SE competition’s Sniper pods include new sensors (1k FLIR, HDTV), an evolution of the 2-way Compact Multi-Band Datalink (CMDL) that’s compatible with ROVER 3-5 per USAF requirements, and “automated capabilities” (all they’re allowed to say) to help the pilot perform ISR missions with less workload. Under the USAF’s NET-T Quick Reaction Capability contract, a point-to-multipoint data link architecture can provide an extended range “beyond line-of-sight” capability with the right positioning or infrastructure.

The USAF’s 2001 selection made Sniper a safe choice for international buys, and the LITENING pod’s Israeli origins has opened doors for Lockheed Martin in a number of Islamic countries. Sniper is currently integrated on the A-10A+/C, F-16 Block 25+ aircraft, F-15E/K/S/SG Strike Eagles, F/A-18A-D Hornets, and the B-52H and B-1B bombers. They were integrated with Harrier II GR7/9s, before Britain sold its fleet to the USMC for use as spare parts. Britain didn’t sell its Sniper pods, though, and Lockheed Martin says they’ve done some work on the Tornado GR4 (flight tests, but not operational yet), and on the Eurofighter Typhoon in cooperation with BAE.

As of June 2012, Sniper customers include the USAF (A-10C, F-15E, F-16, B-1B, B-52H), Belgium (F-16 MLU), Britain (Harrier GR7/9, all now sold to the USMC), Canada (“CF-18″ F/A-18 AM/BM), Egypt (F-16), Morocco (F-16), Norway (F-16), Oman (F-16), Pakistan (F-16), Poland (F-16), Saudi Arabia (F-15S), South Korea (F-15K, phase 2 buy from earlier LANTIRN pod contract), Singapore (F-15SG, F-16s), and Turkey (F-16).

Northrop Grumman: LITENING in a Pod LITENING III on GR4
(click to view full)

Northrop Grumman representatives informed DID that their pod will be an enhanced “LITENING SE” variant of their new LITENING G4, which has demonstrated both air-ground and air-air capabilities in testing. LITENING SE changes include an all-digital 1024 x 1024 pixel forward-looking infrared sensor (compared to the AT’s 640 x 512 pixel system); a similar 1K charge-coupled device TV sensor for daytime imaging; a Laser Target Imaging Program imaging system providing improved target recognition across a wide range of conditions; and a “plug and play” data link system that enables them to accept a variety of data links without further modifications to the pod or aircraft. Among other things, PNP-III (Plug N Play 3) is aligned with the ROVER 5 standard for 2-way transmissions with ground forces.

Northrop Grumman has sold its AN/AAQ-28 LITENING pods to a number of customers, for use on a number of different aircraft types. When looking at global coverage and customer bases, however, it’s important to note that Northrop Grumman is only 1 of 2 firms producing LITENING pods. Israel’s RAFAEL invented the LITENING, and has pursued parallel development and sales of their own LITENING I/II/III/EF models within the framework of their formal agreement with Northrop Grumman. At present, however, G4/SE technology is proprietary to Northrop Grumman, who is working on export clearances but hasn’t yet received them.

Overall, platforms known to have integrated at least one LITENING pod variant to at least the tested level include the AV-8B Harrier II, EA-6B Prowler, F-4E/F Phantom, F-5E variants, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Block 15+, F/A-18 Hornet, F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, JAS-39 A-D Gripen, MiG-21, Sukhoi/HAL SU-30MKI, Tornado, Eurofighter Typhoon, HC-130H Hercules, and B-52H. There are also reports of Jaguar IM, Mirage 2000 (reportedly used during the 1999 Kargil War), and/or MiG-27 integration work in India; and photos of Brazilian A-1/AMX and Colombian Kfir C10 fighters with LITENING pods.

A-10 in Iraq
(click to view full)

In terms of Northrop Grumman’s sales, Israel flies a handful of older LITENING ER models on some of its F-16s. The US military’s pods are all at least LITENING AT standard, even those that began life as LITENING-IIs or LITENING ERs. They’re complemented by a handful of even more advanced LITENING G4s, and Northrop Grumman’s pods serve with the USAF, AFRC, US ANG, and USMC on A-10A/C, AV-8B, EA-6B, F-16 Block 30+, F/A-18 C/D, F-15E, and B-52H aircraft. The A-10Cs, B-52s, F-15Es, and F-16s are all slated to become compatible with the new G4s.

Northrop Grumman LITENING AT pods also serve with the Italian (AV-8B Harrier II), and Spanish (AV-8B) navies. The LITENING AT Block 2 pod, which is somewhere between the AT and G4, serves with Australia (F/A-18 Hornet HUG), Finland (F/A-18 C/D), the Netherlands (F-16 MLU), and Portugal (F-16 A/B Block 15 and F-16AM MLU). In 2012, Denmark added itself to the customer list, buying G4 pods for its F-16 MLUs.

By the time the ATP-SE contract was issued, the US military already had about 10-30 LITENING G4 pods in the field, from about 50 ordered in 2009 by the USMC/ US ANG/ USAF Reserves under existing contract vehicles (see section below). That lot of pods was slated to finish delivery in 2011, and did so.

The Israelis are notoriously tight lipped about their customers, but known sales from RAFAEL have occurred to the IAF (F-16s), as well as exports to Britain (Eurofighter, Tornado GR4), Germany (Eurofighter, Tornado IDS, possibly F-4F); and Greece (“Peace Icarus 2000″ F-4E AUPs). There have also been reports of sales to Brazil (F-5BR), Chile (F-16); Colombia (Kfir C10), India (slated for Tejas LCA, on Mirage 2000, SU-30, others), Hungary (JAS-39), Singapore (F-16), South Africa (JAS-39, via Zeiss), Sweden (JAS-39), Romania (MiG-21 Lancer), Turkey (F-16, F-4E 2020), and Venezuela (F-16), among others.

Contracts & Key Events: ATP-SE FY 2013-2015

Net-T, pre-flight
(click to view full)

June 19/15: Lockheed Martin has been contracted to supply ten Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, with the country currently engaged in airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. The company was awarded a $485 million contract by the US Air Force in March, with a portion of this allocated for Foreign Military Sales. Jordan become the sixteenth Sniper ATP customer in 2013.

March 30/15:Lockheed Martin was awarded a $485 million IDIQ contract Friday for advanced targeting pods, a portion of which are earmarked for FMS. The Sniper pod is operational on the F-15, F-16, F-18, B-1, B-52 and A-10 platforms. Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Canada, the UK and Belgium are previous export customers. A separate $8.9 million contract will also see Lockheed provide the Jordanian Air Force with 10 of the targeting pods, through the UK as a third party.

Jan 15/15: In January 2015, Rafael announced that their upcoming upgrade that they call G-4 Advanced outside the U.S., and “G-5″ for the Americans will have air-to-air targeting capabilities.

Jan 18/13: Net-T. The USAF is testing a wireless router addition to ATP-SE pods called Net-T, which would work in the background and help troops on the ground communicate with each other. ROVER systems already allow communications with the aircraft, and Net-T works with ROVER 5 to share voice, real-time information videos, images, maps, coordinates, or any other file type, without having to resort to satellite links and their scarce bandwidth. That’s very helpful in urban environments, mountains, dense vegetation, etc., where troops have a clear path to an aircraft, but don’t have line of sight to each other.

This high priority developmental test began in October 2012 with the A-10Cs, F-16s, and F-15Es of the 40th Flight Test Squadron, along with some visiting B-1 bombers. Beyond testing key metrics like effective distances, bandwidth, etc., they wanted to be sure Net-T wouldn’t interfere with the LITENING and Sniper pods’ other functions: day/night surveillance, laser illumination and tracking, automatic target searching and tracking, and automated target reconnaissance. Fortunately, once the frequencies and data rates are configured, it’s just a 1-button push for the pilot to initiate transmit-in-Net-T mode.

The goal is to send the testing report to the USAF’s Precision Attack Systems Program Office at Wright Patterson AFB, OH by February 2013, to be followed by operational testing with the 53rd Wing – and hopefully by fielding on ATP-SEs in February 2014. Eglin AFB.

Jan 16/13: Sniper. Lockheed Martin announces USAF approval to begin full-rate production of the Sniper-SE. At this point, Sniper-SE remains the only ATP-SE pod that’s integrated and operational on the F-15E Strike Eagle, and B-1 and B-52 bombers.

Sniper FRP

Nov 12/12: LITENING. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces a $71.5 million order from the USAF to begin full-rate production of LITENING SE advanced targeting pods and spares, under the ATP-SE program.


FY 2010 – 2012

ATP-SE award. Litening G4 for F-16s. LITENING modularity
(click to view full)

Feb 13/12: LITENING. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces 2 follow-on Low Rate Initial Production delivery orders totaling a combined $66 million, to provide additional LITENING SEs. The orders were made under the Sept 30/10 contract.

Oct 24/11: LITENING. Northrop Grumman announces that the US Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center (AATC) has recommended full fielding for LITENING G4 Advanced Targeting Pods on its F-16 C/D Block 25/30/32 aircraft, after a successful operational utility evaluation (OUE).

This is one of the plane sets mentioned in Northrop Grumman’s Sept 30/10 order, which included funds for testing and OUE. The pods, on the other hand, stem from the Oct 1/09 award noted in the “ATP-SE Lead Ins” section.

During the September 2010 – May 2011 OUE, LITENING G4 pods flew 530 sorties and accumulated more than 825 flight hours. According to the fielding recommendation issued by AATC to Air Combat Command:

“LITENING G4 provides a significant improvement in F-16 Block 30 mission area execution over baseline targeting pods. The addition of a short wave infrared sensor provides a unique capability to capture images in shadows where FLIR(Forward Looking InfraRed) or CCD [regular cameras] were ineffective.”

G4 OK for F-16s

Oct 18/10: LITENING. At a special event attended by senior members of Israel’s defense establishment, customers, and representatives of foreign militaries and airforces, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. marked the sale of the 1,000th Litening Pod, including all partner sales. The event also included RAFAEL business partners Northrop Grumman from the USA, British firm Ultra Electronics, and Germany’s ZEISS.

According to Northrop Grumman sources, by early October 2010 they had total orders for 611 pods, and had delivered 523.

The RAFAEL release adds that “Litening pods have been procured by 26 countries. Litening pods have compiled, totally, more than a million flight hours.” Note that if all countries listed above as possible LITENING customers are included, it only adds up to 22. DID is certain of Northrop Grumman’s sales, but not of RAFAEL’s.

Sniper production
(click to view full)

Sept 30/10: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Orlando, FL (FA8626-10-D-2133) and Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Meadows, IL (FA8626-10-D-2132) will split a $2.3 billion contract to provide new advanced targeting pods and associated support equipment, spares and product support. At this time, $23.7 million has been committed to Northrop, and $23.5 million has been committed to Lockheed Martin, in order to provide test pods for the government. The ASC/WNQK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages this contracts.

Lockheed Martin later announces that the USAF has picked its Sniper ATP as the winner of the 60% share of its Advanced Targeting Pod-Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) competition.

Under the terms of this contract, Lockheed Martin says that the Government has options to buy up to 670 pods through 2017, with Lockheed Martin’s share of the program totaling more than $1 billion. Asked which platforms were covered in testing, Lockheed Martin personnel said that no additional per-platform testing was needed, just general performance testing.

(click to view full)

Northrop Grumman later announces that if the government exercises all of their options, the firm’s LITENING SE would pick up approximately $920 million in orders for up to 670 pods through 2017. The USAF’s initial order encompasses flight testing of the targeting systems on Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve F-16 Blocks 25/30/32, USAF F-16 Blocks 40/50, and A-10C aircraft, and the firm says this represents potential orders for as many as 250 targeting pods plus spares, training and logistics support. If the USAF wants to add additional platforms qualified for LITENING-SE, additional testing contracts will be required.

Northrop Grumman representatives tell DID that they can produce about 8-9 LITENING pods per month at the moment, but production is expected to rise to 12+ per month if budgets and orders under ATP-SE require it. They expect ATP-SE Production Lots 1 & 2 to finish delivery by early 2012.

ATP-SE award

Contracts & Key Events: ATP-SE Lead-Ins FY 2011 – 2012 VANG LITENING G4
(click to view full) May 14/12: Northrop Grumman announces a $103 million delivery order from US Naval Air Systems Command, to equip the USMC’s aircraft with LITENING G4 pods. They’ll also provide G4 upgrade kits and spares to the US Air National Guard, to bring their earlier-model LITENING pods to the G4 configuration.

Northrop Grumman says that they’ve delivered more than 200 LITENING G4 systems so far, adding that all of its LITENING pods put together have achieved over 1.5 million flight hours.

June 19/15: Lockheed Martin has been contracted to supply ten Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, with the country currently engaged in airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. The company was awarded a $485 million contract by the US Air Force in March, with a portion of this allocated for Foreign Military Sales. Jordan become the sixteenth Sniper ATP customer in 2013.

March 13/12: LITENING G4 #100. Northrop Grumman announces the delivery of the 100th LITENING G4 targeting pod to meet a combination of USAF Lot 1/2 and US Marine Corps Lot 2/3/4 LITENING G4 production contracts. USAF Lot 2 will include the first LITENING-SEs.

Feb 6/12: LITENING G4 in combat. Northrop Grumman announces that its LITENING G4 has embarked on its first combat deployment, aboard US Air National Guard A-10Cs, and F-16C/D Block 30 aircraft. The pods will be used in Afghanistan.

Dec 5/11: LITENING. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Rolling Meadows, IL receives a $690.1 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-firm, cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-plus-incentive-firm, time-and-materials LITENING Targeting Pod System post-production support contract, which will run until Sept 18/18. It will:

“…address supply requirements centered on hardware and software upgrades and associated host platform integration, initial spares, technical manual and technical orders, repair data, studies, spares recapitalization and support for the standup of organic depot repair requirements for the sustainment of the legacy LITENING pod fleet.”

Queries to Northrop Grumman and the USAF established that this contract doesn’t cover support for LITENING-SE pods as the USAF takes delivery. It covers existing LITENING AT/G4 stocks, including integration and certification of the new LITENING G4s with US ANG F-16C/D Block 30-50s, USAF active duty F-16C/D Block 40-50s, F-15E Strike Eagles, the A-10C close-support plane, and the B-52H heavy bomber. The USAF also confirmed that the contract may fund upgrades of existing pods to the LITENING-SE standard. This was a sole-source acquisition by the ASC/WNQK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (FA8626-12-D-2137). See also Northrop Grumman’s mid-March 2012 release.

LITENING support & upgrades

Nov 7/11: Sniper. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, FL receives an $841.5 million firm-fixed-price post-production support contract for Sniper targeting pods. Work will include “sensor enhancement on hardware and software upgrades and associated host platform integration, initial spares, technical manual and technical orders, repair data, studies and spares recapitalization, and support the standup of organic depot repair requirements…” The ASC/WNQK at Wright Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract (FA8626-12-D-2138), and when queried, they had this to say:

“The contract will include a five-year base ordering period [to 2016] and two, one-year options [which could extend it to 2018]. This new effort will provide for hardware, software, and associated updates for 375 Sniper targeting pods delivered to Combat Air Forces (CAF) under a prior contract. Updates may include Sniper pod upgrades to the Sniper advanced targeting pod-sensor enhanced (ATP-SE) standard.”

See also Lockheed Martin’s March 2012 release.

Sniper support & upgrades

Oct 19/11: LITENING G4. Northrop Grumman finishes delivering the 1st Lot of 50 LITENING G4s, under the 2009, $227.8 million US ANG contract. Production Lot 2 will begin production of the USAF’s LITENING-SEs, and the USMC’s ordered G4s. Northrop Grumman.

FY 2004 – 2010 ATFLIR on F/A-18F
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Sept 13/10: Sniper. Lockheed Martin announces a $13 million contract to upgrade the Sniper ATP’s existing data link with an enhanced digital Compact Multi-band Data Link (CMDL), improving secure digital transmission of high definition imagery and metadata at extended ranges. CMDL communicates seamlessly with the fielded ROVER family of ground stations, including ROVER 5.

Lockheed’s final ATP-SE Sniper offering will build on this work, and this CMDL upgrade follows the S3.5 software upgrade of U.S. Air Force and coalition Sniper pods operational on F-16 Block 30/40/50, A-10C, F-15E and B-1 aircraft. The S3.5 added emerging aircraft interfaces to Sniper ATP and provides new capabilities in air-to-air and air-to-surface tracking and designation, selectable ground-stabilized fragmentation circles, unpowered built-in-test data download capability, and video data link metadata and symbology enhancements.

March 10/10: LITENING G4. Northrop Grumman announces that it successfully demonstrated its LITENING pod on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at the US Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, CA, during a 1.5 hour flight under operationally representative conditions. DID has confirmed from a reliable source that the pod was a LITENING G4.

To this point, the Super Hornet has only been fielded with Raytheon’s ATFLIR surveillance and targeting pods; even LITENING customer Australia picked ATFLIR for its F-18F Super Hornets.

Super Hornet test

Oct 1/09: LITENING G4. Northrop Grumman announces a $153 million contract from the USAF to provide LITENING G4 targeting and sensor systems and related equipment. Under the terms of the agreement, Northrop Grumman will deliver LITENING G4 targeting and sensor pods to the active U.S. Air Force, as well as kits for the Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard to upgrade existing LITENING AT pods to the G4 configuration, and additional data links for the Air National Guard and active U.S. Air Force.

This contract modification under an existing agreement marks the first updates of existing Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and Air National Guard (ANG) LITENING pods to the G4 configuration, and the first sale to the USAF.

This order turned out to be a big deal, because it was part of the process of re-introducing competition to the USAF. The LITENING G4 sold here also forms the baseline for the company’s USAF Advanced Targeting Pod – Sensor Enhancement product.


Aug 29/10: Expeditionary/ TopLITE. Northrop Grumman Systems in Rolling Meadows, IL receives a $98.7 million ceiling-priced indefinite-delivery/ indefinite quantity contract for the procurement of Expeditionary Litening Pods (LPODs), upgrades to existing pods, and integration of LPODs into AV-8B Harriers (domestic and allied), F/A-18 Hornets (domestic and FMS), EA-6B Prowlers, C-130 Hercules, and Air Force platforms, including related parts and services. In addition, this contract provides for associated engineering and technical support and technical data.

Work will be performed in Rolling Meadows, IL, and is expected to be complete in June 2011. $16.1 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00019-09-D-0025).

They’re “Expeditionary” G4s because this is the US Marines and Navy contract, which is separate from USAF orders. With respect to the C-130, LITENING has been integrated on a US Coast Guard C-130 as a demo, but nothing ever came of it. The USMC contract is related to a program called Toplite, a surveillance oriented version of LITENING that’s similar to RAFAEL’s RecceLITE. Northrop Grumman sees this as an opportunity to explore integration on lower-g aircraft by separating the turret out, and moving the backing electronics out of a pod configuration and inside the plane.


Feb 12/04: Sniper Adapter. Lockheed Martin announces a contract to integrate the Sniper XR targeting pod on the A-10 aircraft in support of the A-10 Precision Engagement (PE) Program. The contract award follows a successful demonstration of the Sniper system during the A/OA-10 Precision Engagement upgrade program’s critical design review.

Some existing A-10s do fly with targeting pods, but they’re earlier models of Northrop Grumman’s LITENING pod. The USAF picked Sniper as its future targeting pod in 2001, and the current contract will ensure that Sniper pods work seamlessly with the A-10’s upgraded stores management systems, pilot displays, weapon targeting, etc.

As part of the integration effort, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control will develop the Pilot Vehicle Interface (PVI), pod Operational Flight Program (OFP) software, and pod interface adapter hardware for the A-10. Upon completion of this effort, the Sniper XR pod will self-detect and automatically load the appropriate Operational Flight Program when installed on either the A-10, F-16 or F-15E airframes. That work would pay dividends for a long time, by ensuring that new versions of the Sniper pod would remain compatible with certified jets. Otherwise, that certification takes months, and costs a lot of money (vid. ATP-SE award).

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Source : © European Union, 2015 - EP