Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR February 2011 Contents 32 | Asia Pacific Defence Reporter
detect, recognize, identify, track and engage
ground targets in day, night and adverse weather
conditions. The pod also allows designating each
target with a laser. This designator can be carried
on the same aircraft that is flying with the pod or
the designation can be done by another aircraft
flying in the area.
Amiram Ash, Rafael’s Director of the electro
optics division says that Litening allows the
aircraft to perform maneuvers during and after
the attack path, without losing the lock on the
target. The sensors, Ash said, “provide imagery
for night navigation as well as hit verification and
battle damage assessment after the attack”.
Litening can be used for continuous monitoring
of an area of interest.
It is used now by the US Air Force Reserve and
Air National Guard for their F-16 Block 25/30/32
Fighting Falcons. The pod is also used on the US
Marine Corps AV-8B, Spanish and Italian Navy
AV-8B and Spanish air force F/A-18, German
Air Force Tornado IDS, and Venezuelan F-16A/B.
South Africa selected the system for its Gripens.
The Indian airforce uses the system on its Mirage
2000, MiG-27 and Jaguar. In the RAF, the system
is integrated on Tornados and Eurofighters. In
Australia the pods are on RAAF’s Hornets.
Some of these users are already negotiating an
upgrade to the latest version of the pod.
Ash disclosed that the company is now offering
the fourth generation of the Litening. The newer
version has longer observation ranges and
other improvements based on new algorithms
incorporated in the system’s computers.
Rafael has recently released information about
the improved version of its RecceLite, real-time
intelligence and reconnaissance system. The
RecceLite is a self-contained, self-cooled, multi-
sensor tactical reconnaissance device.
RecceLite is a derivative of Rafael’s Litening
which simultaneously collects Infra-Red (IR) and
Visual (VIS) and near IR digital images of large
areas. The images and the data are stored on a
solid state recorder and transmitted to the ground
exploitation station via the RecceLite data link.
The new gimbaled version can be controlled
from the ground to focus on “areas of interest”.
This feature points to the growing need for two
way data links that connect the airborne platform
and ground forces.
In case of a data link failure the system will send
the images to the ground station immediately
after the connection is re-established. The new
version also has improved resolution and the
capability to cover larger areas.
Ash explained that the Reccelite has 80 %
commonality with the Litening and is used for
“Snap shots” of an area. It is now operational in
Afghanistan on combat aircraft operated by the
Dutch, German and Italian air forces.
Elbit electro-optics subsidiary Elop has also
developed electro-optic pods for combat aircraft.
The newest version is the Condor TAC - a tactical
reconnaissance system which provides 24/7
high-resolution, visible and IR mono and stereo
images, from very low to very high altitudes.
According to Elop, the Condor TAC is mainly
aimed at vertical photography from 500 to 40,000
It is capable of providing continuous rapid
wide-area coverage and full-resolution imagery
for each of its EO and IR channels. The system
is available in EO panchromatic or color RGB
versions. Its autonomous navigation capability
is provided by the INS/GPS embedded in the
camera. The pod also contains a Management
&Video Processing Unit (MVU), Data Link, and
Elop also manufactures the Condor 2 – which
is a Long Range Oblique Photography (LOROP)
system which provides high-resolution imagery,
while allowing the reconnaissance aircraft to
remain at a long stand-off distance from the
target. The Condor 2 can be operated from
altitudes of 10,000 to 50,000 feet but a typical
mission is performed in an altitude band of
between 30 to 40,000 feet.
The Condor 2 generates simultaneous high
resolution visible and IR images, covering wide
areas in a short time. By flying high the carrying
aircraft is safe from almost all ground threats.
Elop says that the small pod can be carried by
F-16 sized fighters.
The sensors in their different
shapes and sizes give the
IAF’s combat aircraft the
extra edge needed to perform
an air-ground missions
The sensors in their different shapes and sizes give the IAF’s combat aircraft the extra edge
needed to perform an air-ground missions successfully. But they are also a very important - if
not a crucial set of “eyes” - that help ground forces and also those at sea to operate in the most
In recent years the airborne sensors carried by the IAF’s manned and unmanned platforms
have shown that the investment in technology that allows a steady flow of real time data to
combat units is of crucial importance. This flow of information requires very advanced data
links and some Israeli companies have developed several with outstanding capabilities.
Creating the “big picture” has become a very complicated task. On one hand the technology
is very advanced and on the other the steady flow of many types of data must be presented
in some sort of prioritized way to avoid the creation of “operational confusion”. This is now
the focus of some Israeli defence companies that are using their know-how to create the “big
picture” - but one that is tailored to specific operational needs at any given minute. APDR
Litening on Eurofighter
RecceLite on F-16
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