Seoul has approved a project to upgrade its aircraft identification friend-or-foe (IFF) from the current Mode 4 to Mode 5 at a cost of 2.5 trillion won ($2.2 billion).
The IFF upgrade is said to be prompted by North Korea’s usage of small drones to enter the south for reconnaissance and to drop propaganda leaflets. Some reports said last week quoting a defector that the North is planning to use drones to attack Seoul with chemical and biological weapons.
In a monthly meeting on pending arms-related projects on Wednesday, presided over by Defense Minister Han Min-koo, the military decided to launch the IFF program next year via both the country's own R&D and overseas purchase, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, Korea Herald reported today quoting a Yonhap agency dispatch.
Upgrading the Mode 4 in use by South Korea's armed forces to the Mode 5 will improve anti-wiretap and anti-jamming functions, it said. The IFF upgrade is said to be prompted by North Korea’s usage of small drones to enter the south.
"The size of the program is estimated at 2.5 trillion won ($2.2 billion)," Kim Si-cheol, DAPA's spokesman, told reporters later. It is scheduled to run through 2026, with much of the planned procurement expected to be done between 2021-2023, he said.
The military has yet to decide details on procurement methods, which would depend on various types of the system, he said, adding either Foreign Military Sales, based on government-to-government contacts, or commercial deals can be an option in case of overseas purchases.