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Aust: Northrop Grumman preferred supplier of laser

Major Boost To The F/A-18 Strike Capability

Northrop Grumman has been chosen as the preferred supplier of a state-of-the-art laser weapon targeting system for Australia’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft as part of a project worth more than $100 million.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said Defence had recommended the LITENING pod manufactured by Northrop Grumman, with RAFAEL being a major subcontractor.

Defence assessed three systems – including the Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infra-Red pod manufactured by Raytheon and the Pantera pod manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

Senator Hill said the systems will be a vital component of the Hornet’s weapons suite. Northrop Grumman’s bid was chosen because it provided the most number of pods as well as the best value for money.

"The target designation systems will improve the detection, identification, precision targeting and damage assessment phases of F/A-18 air support operations," Senator Hill said.

"The pods produce an image of the target area on a screen in the cockpit, similar to a black and white television picture.

"The pilot is then able to use this image to exactly designate the desired target, to maximise accuracy and minimise collateral damage.

"The aircraft will be better equipped to detect and attack targets by day or night, increasing their operational effectiveness and reducing risk to aircraft and crew."

The target designation system includes a laser system, allowing for the employment of precision laser guided bombs.

The first squadron is expected to be equipped with the new system by early 2007.

This project is one of a number of planned upgrades to the Hornet aircraft that will ensure the potent strike capability of our fighter fleet continues.

© Scoop Media

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