Air Weapons: October 1, 2002


When the USAF wanted to provide some affordable all-weather targeting capability for their warplanes, they bought overseas. The air force ordered 112 Litening II pods from Israel. The pod weighs 440 pounds and costs $1.4 million each. It contains a day and night vision system (displaying images in 640x512 pixels, low rez as digital cameras go, but good enough for combat.) The pod also contains a laser ranger finder and a laser designator for laser guided bombs. The Marines also ordered 47 of the 16 inch (diameter) by 87 inches (long) pods. This type of equipment first appeared during the 1991 Persian Gulf war as the American made LANTIRN pod. What caused the air force and marines to choose the Litening was not just the lower price, but the superior software that makes the Litening much easier to use. The many pilots who have used both are nearly unanimous in favoring the Litening, and mainly because of ease of use. The Litening first showed it's superiority in Iraq, where air force reserve pilots patrolling the no-fly zone began using the Litening in 2000.


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