Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting InfraRed for Night
A system used on military airplanes to aid the pilot with dusk and nighttime missions. It also enables communication with "smart" weapons like laser-guided bombs and missiles.
The LANTIRN system itself consists of one pod mounted on each side of an airplane. The first is for targeting (AAQ-14), the second for navigation (AAQ-13).
The navigation module includes FLIR (Forward-Looking InfraRed) and TFR (Terrain Following RADAR). These two detection devices enable the pilot to control the plane safely at night, in low visibility, and/or at low altitudes (down to 100 feet!).
Targeting and weapons control is made possible by the second module. It offloads targeting tasks from the pilot and wizzo with FLIR and LASER rangefinding. The module also provides computer-assisted weapons control with LASER guidance and a imaging system similar to that found in AGM-65 Maverick missiles.
Originally designed starting in 1980 by Martin Marietta, LANTIRN was created with the F-15 and F-16C/D in mind. Testing and evaluation occurred between 1984 and 1986, and operational units were installed by 1987. The LANTIRN system was essential in maintaining the constant level of air activity required for air superiority in the Gulf War.
Specs (From the USAF Fact Sheet):
- Length: Navigation pod, 78.2 inches; targeting pod, 98.5 inches
- Diameter: Navigation pod, 12 inches; targeting pod, 15 inches
- Weight: Navigation pod, 451.1 pounds; targeting pod, 530 pounds
- Unit Cost: Navigation pod, $1.38 million; targeting pod, $3.2 million