WASHINGTON — Northrop Grumman introduced its OpenPod sensor system Tuesday, which seeks to use modular design to give users the flexibility to quickly and easily change the sensor's capability in the field.

The 500-pound unit can be attached to a variety of aircraft, such as F-15s, F-18s, A-10s, C-130s and potentially helicopters, if they can accommodate the additional weight, said James Mocarski, vice president of Northrop Grumman's Airborne Tactical Sensors business unit.

"It's as simple as reconfiguring your pod and reattaching it to your aircraft," said Mocarski during a briefing at the National Press Club in Washington.

The OpenPods use modules built using open architecture, allowing them to be reconfigured for different missions in a matter of minutes without having to attach a different sensor system to the aircraft, which is time-consuming and expensive, Mocarski noted.

The OpenPod is being flight tested, he said, but declined to elaborate on which platform. Its first public exposure will be for the US Air Force's upcoming infrared search and track (IRST) competition.

Initially, OpenPod's capabilities will be targeting and IRST, but plans for communications and LIDAR are in the works, Mocarski said. If a new capability is needed, such as a high-capacity data recorder, firms could create a new module for the new mission.

With the OpenPod, Northrop hopes to make further inroads into the IRST market, building upon past ventures with Italy's Selex on IRST and with Israel's Rafael on its Litening targeting pod.

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