ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill., June 13, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet aircraft operating in Iraq and Afghanistan will soon gain the precision-targeting capabilities offered by Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) LITENING advanced-targeting (AT) pod as a result of the approved U.S. Department of Defense's fiscal year 2005 supplemental budget.
LITENING AT is a self-contained, multi-sensor laser target-designating and navigation system that enables fighter pilots to detect, acquire, track and identify ground targets for highly accurate delivery of both conventional and precision-guided weapons. The system features advanced image processing for target identification and coordinate generation; a 640 x 512 pixel forward-looking infrared sensor; charge-coupled device television sensors; a laser spot tracker; an infrared laser marker; an infrared laser designator/range finder; and air-to-ground data links.
The supplemental appropriation provided funding for the Marine Corps to procure the first 24 LITENING AT targeting pods and associated station-four mounting pylons for its fleet of F/A-18 expeditionary aircraft. Now that the appropriation is approved, a contract will soon be awarded that calls for deliveries to begin immediately and to be completed within nine months. The total requirement is anticipated to exceed 100 pods.
"This procurement represents the first installment of LITENING AT pods to equip all of the Marine's expeditionary Hornets," said Mike Lennon, vice president, targeting and surveillance programs, Northrop Grumman Defensive Systems Division. "Until now, Marine F/A-18s in Iraq and Afghanistan have been flying with LITENING AT pods borrowed from their AV-8Bs. Combat experience has shown that LITENING is the only system that provides the data link and cooperative targeting capabilities the Marines require for close air support. For these reasons, and growth to fourth-generation capabilities, LITENING AT is now the targeting-pod program of record for all Marine tactical aircraft."
This procurement will bring the total number of LITENING pods in the Marine Corps arsenal to more than 120. Following the successful integration and flight testing of LITENING AT on the F/A-18 by a Marine Corps-U.S. Navy-Northrop Grumman team last summer, the Marines quickly fielded LITENING ATs on their F/A-18s to support troops in Iraq. Since then, LITENING AT-equipped Hornets have flown daily close-air support missions, and have accumulated more then 15,000 combat hours.
More than 300 LITENING AT pods have been delivered to U.S. forces and foreign military services to date. LITENING AT and its predecessors, LITENING II and LITENING ER, are also currently operational on AV-8Bs flown by the Marine Corps and the Italian and Spanish navies, as well as on A-10s, B-52s, F-15Es and F-16s flown by active-duty and reserve components of the U.S. Air Force. Together, all variants of the LITENING AT pod have amassed approximately 350,000 flight hours, with more than 125,000 of these hours posted in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Northrop Grumman's Defensive Systems Division is a component of Northrop Grumman's Baltimore-based Electronic Systems sector-a world leader in the design, development, and manufacture of defense and commercial electronic systems, including airborne radar, navigation systems, electronic countermeasures, targeting and surveillance systems, precision weapons, airspace management systems, communications systems, space sensors, marine and naval systems, government systems and logistic services.
CONTACT: Katie Lamb Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (847) 259-9600, ext. 3542 Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org