Stand-off Capabilities for Leonardo's M-346FA Jet Trainer

Fifth-gen ISR and targeting pods from Israel's Rafael to be integrated onto Leonardo's advanced jet trainer.

06 May 2020



RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems will supply fifth generation Litening-5 and RecceLite targeting and ISR systems for Leonardo's M-346FA light combat aircraft. This is the first integration of 5th generation EO pods to Leonardo's M-346FA platform.

The M-346FA is the multi-role combat variant of the most advanced jet trainer, which is designed for a wide range of training capabilities, long-term reliability and cost-effective operations. The FA variant is also able to operate as a multi-role tactical aircraft, capable of air-to-surface, air-to-air and tactical reconnaissance missions.

 Integrated with RAFAEL's pods, the jet will now have combat-proven, stand-off capabilities using the Litening 5 multi-spectral airborne targeting pod. The Litening 5 pod is in use by 27 air forces in Europe, the Far East and South America and carried by over 25 platforms globally.

“We see a growing number of nations that have requirements for trainers that are also able to perform close-air support missions, and the addition of RAFAEL's globally combat-proven targeting and ISR pods is a significant, force-multiplying enhancement to our platform,” said Emanuele Merlo, Leonardo’s Aircraft Division senior vice president, Trainers.

According to RAFAEL, the Litening 5 delivers real-time, forward-looking infrared (FLIR+SWIR) and day High Definition colour camera imagery. Its high-resolution sensors and effective EO/IR design ensure reliable operation at significant stand-off ranges.

Litening 5 allows the operation of all types of air-to-surface smart weaponry, such as laser-guided, GPS-guided and EO/IR imaging-guided munition. Litening pods have logged over 2 million flight hours, with more than two-thirds in contingency operations worldwide.



With the RecceLite ISR system, the light-attack aircraft will be able to perform target search, using advanced AI, ATR (Automatic Target Recognition) at the interpretation ground station, and other smart algorithms for efficient detection, tracking, and sensor-to-shooter closure.

Using its advanced ISR, image processing, and artificial intelligence, Rafael says the system achieves optimal data-exploitation at the ground station, of intelligence data relayed in real-time and mission execution in near-real-time.

RecceLite has been delivered to 13 customers world-wide and integrated onto various aircraft, including the F-16, F-18, Jaguar, AMX, Tornado, Typhoon, Gripen, Heron TP, Reaper and others.

"This new cooperation with Leonardo opens new markets to integrate our advanced systems to additional light, cost-effective platforms, based on our vast experience and integration legacy in all domains,” said Guy Oren, vice president and head of RAFAEL's Electro-optical systems directorate.