Flight trials have started for a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules transport aircraft equipped with a Northrop Grumman Litening targeting pod.
Mounted on a pylon underneath the wing of the Hercules, the AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening pod is capable of recording video in day and night-time conditions, and includes a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera.
Air Commodore Carl Newman, Commander Air Mobility Group, said the trials would examine the Litening pod’s utility for different Hercules missions.
“Historically, RAAF Hercules crews have relied on radio, instruments and their own senses to understand the environment,” Air Commodore Newman said in a news release.
“This trial will examine how the Litening pod can improve crew situational awareness to mitigate mission risks. For example, the Litening pod could help us maintain contact with survivors during search and rescue operations, or examine conditions at an airfield or drop zone prior to delivering cargo or personnel.”
It is understood that the trial will also pair the Litening pod with a satellite communications antenna on the Hercules, which is expected to allow high-definition video to be shared with ground-based units or a headquarters.
According to the company:
“The Northrop Grumman LITENING Advanced Targeting System, now in its fourth generation, gives aircrews superior situational awareness and targeting capabilities for strike and ISR missions. Technologies include digital, high definition video, 1K forward-looking infrared and charge-coupled device sensors, laser imaging sensors and advanced data links. These advances deliver more accurate target identification and location at longer ranges than previous targeting pod systems, while also reducing pilot workload.”