Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR February 2011 Contents TEL AVIV
Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace
Industries (IAI) is manufacturing some of the
more advanced SAR pods for fighter aircraft. The
company has managed to pack very impressive
capabilities into a 196 kg pod. The EL/M-20600
RTP is a SAR system that provides high quality
radar images of ground targets and terrain from
Baruch Reshef, Elta’s deputy director for
marketing says that the system has a number
of operational modes. Strip SAR is used for fast
imaging of a wide ground surface strip. Spot SAR
is used for high resolution imaging of targets, with
the GMTI mode very capable in detecting moving
targets and the GTT mode used for accurate
tracking of stationary and moving targets.
The EL/M 20600 is only one system in a large
product range that is used by the Israeli Air Force
alone or approved for export.
The IAF says that the SAR pods are a “force
multiplier” as far as intelligence gathering is
concerned. The IAF sources do not go into details,
but it can be assumed that combining the SAR
pods with accurate weapon systems gives the
IAF a set of operational advantages that were not
available before these systems were fielded.
The Rafael Litening targeting pod has become
in recent years a “best seller” among many air
forces – including Australia’s. Only recently Rafael
celebrated the sale of its 1000th pod. The Litening
was recently selected as one of two systems that
will be carried by the U.S Air Force air combat
The demand for targeting pods has increased
mainly because of the good results from their use
in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Litening combines in a single pod all the targeting
capabilities needed for a combat aircraft to detect,
identify and attack a target.
The latest generation of the Litening uses
an advanced thermal sensor, based on a focal-
plane array of 640x480 detectors, operating at
the medium thermal band (3-5μ). According to
Rafael, the image quality of the FLIR is identical
to the CCD. The pod processes the video signals
in digital video format, enabling electronic
stabilization and image enhancement, resulting
in a very sharp picture, even at extended ranges.
Utilization of digital video also enables advanced
processing and future upgrades.
Rafael has installed a more powerful dual-
wavelength laser in the pod, which enables
unrestricted operations from high altitude and
long range. It can also be operated in an eye safe
laser mode for training.
This integrated array enables the pilot to
An airborne combat platform is useless without an array of sensors that detects threats and targets, and helps destroy them quickly. The Israeli
Defence Force (IDF) has been a leading user of airborne sensors for ground and maritime missions and the level of capability available from them
is being increased in coming years.
“ We are using every sensor available to create the big picture”, an IDF source said recently. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) uses a large variety of sensors
and pods on its combat aircraft. Many of these have been locally developed and manufactured to answer specific operational needs.
The list is mostly classified but some of the systems can be discussed, with limitations.
The pods are used by the IAF almost daily in intelligence gathering missions that enable the force to stay fully updated about the threats from first,
second and third circle enemy countries. High-resolution imagery is still the main way of collecting data, but in recent years and at a growing pace,
synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is pushing it aside for obvious reasons. The SAR sensors allow continuous, undisturbed observation capabilities, no
matter what the weather.
High-resolution imagery is still the main way
of collecting data, but in recent years and at a
growing pace, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is
pushing it aside for obvious reasons.
The IAF says that the SAR pods are a “force multiplier” as far
as intelligence gathering is concerned
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