From primitiveness to sophistication, targeting pods have had a successful transition. For instance, modern targeting pods have electro-optical sighting capability during the day and infrared sighting during the night. In addition, optical targeting pods are evaluated to have standard features like elector optics, infrared radars, and electro-optics. As per Inkwood Research, the global targeting pods market is expected to register a CAGR of around 6% during the forecast period, 2023-2032.
This blog focuses on the recent product-related developments by key targeting pod manufacturers.
Northrop Grumman – LITENING Advanced Targeting Pod
Northrop Grumman is a global aerospace & defense technology company and a prominent military technology provider. The company operates in four sectors, innovation systems, technology services, mission systems, and aerospace systems. It is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, United States.
On September 7, 2022, Northrop Grumman announced its successful completion of testing the LITENING advanced targeting pod on the US Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet. It is used by aviators to undertake search & rescue, intelligence, surveillance, humanitarian relief, and targeting missions.
LITENING was selected in early 2022 to replace the legacy targeting pods on the F/A-18 fleet. The pilots executed operations and maneuvers representative of combat missions during the flight. This included target destination, air-to-air tracking, and target tracking. The eye-safe training laser mode was engaged, facilitating the use of the pod for realistic training with combat controllers on the ground. The pilots carried out these operations without advanced training, thereby showing the ease of use enabled by close collaboration with the aviation community.
At present, LITENING serves the Air National Guard, Air Force, and the Marine Corps in the US. The company has delivered over 900 LITENING pods.
According to James Conroy, vice president of navigation, targeting, and survivability, Northrop Grumman, “The pod’s digital video, autonomous target tracking, and laser sensors will give Naval aviators an entirely new set of capabilities for operations over land and sea today….” (Source)
Lockheed Martin Corporation – Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP)
Lockheed Martin Corporation is a leading player in the advanced technologies, aerospace & defense, and information security industries. The company has four operational business segments, space system, rotary & mission system, missiles & fire control, and aeronautics, with headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, the United States.
On May 27, 2021, Lockheed Martin and the US Navy collaborated to complete the first flight test of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet integrated with Sniper® Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) for the Kuwait Air Force. It is expected to be fielded with the aircraft in late 2023. This integration is expected to enable the future and existing Super Hornet fleets with Sniper ATP’s precision targeting and surveillance capabilities, which are crucial to pilot survivability.
As per Kenen Nelson, director of Fixed Wing Sensor Programs at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control, “Integrating Sniper ATP onto Weapon Station 5, commonly known as the ‘cheek station,’ brings state-of-the-art tracking algorithms, two-way-data-link, and many other capabilities to the Kuwait F/A-18E/F crews that will positively impact the overall success of their missions.” (Source)
Accordingly, in March 2021, flight testing using an operational Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) was successfully conducted at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) currently flies on the Canadian CF-18 Hornets and the Kuwait F/A-18C/D. Its field-proven reliability, modular design, and exceptional depot partnership with Robins Air Force Base make it the lowest life cycle cost targeting pod in the market.
Thales Group – TALIOS 2-in-1 Pod
Thales Group provides services for the security, transport, defense, and aerospace industries. It designs, supports, and delivers systems in the aerospace sector and offers services like nose-to-tail connectivity, in-flight, training & simulation, and air traffic management. The company has its headquarters in La Defense, France.
Thales Group’s TALIOS 2-in-1 Pod enables recce and targeting capabilities into one pod. It has infrared, color, and HD B&W sensors. Its pilot-centric approach facilitates unhindered situation awareness through Permanent VisionTM.
On May 06, 2022, Thales announced receiving an order of additional 21 TALIOS pods in addition to the initial order for 46 TALIOS systems from the French defense procurement agency (DGA). With this, the French Navy and French Air and Space Force will have a total of TALIOS pods in service by 2025. These will equip Rafale aircraft currently in service with the French forces. TALIOS will allow Rafale F4 standard aircraft to perform ground/surface attack missions and air reconnaissance.
In addition, the pod facilitates an extensive search & target identification capability and switches to target acquisition and tracking mode. Furthermore, on February 8, 2023, Thales announced that it will exhibit the TALIOS 2-in-1 Pod, the best of its airborne optronics capability, at Aero India 2023.
As per Christophe Salomon, Executive Vice President, Land and Air Systems, Thales, “The TALIOS pod’s new reconnaissance modes and automatic target detection and recognition algorithms will provide the French armed forces with an unprecedented level of operational superiority. …” (Source)
These products encompass high-performance capabilities, reliability, and cutting-edge technologies. This is attributed to heavy investments in research & development to sustain the competitive rivalry in the global targeting pods market. Such aspects place these companies among the most prominent players in the market.
By Akhil Nair
What are targeting pods?
Targeting pods are objective marking tools used by attack aircraft to identify targets and guide precision-guided munition (PGM).
Which factor will benefit the global targeting pods market growth?
The ongoing military modernization programs will benefit the global targeting pods market growth.