Leonardo has signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) worth in excess of 290 million Euros to fit jet fighters, helicopters, warships and missile systems with advanced identification systems.
The contract will see Leonardo and HENSOLDT, working together as ‘Team Skytale’, upgrade the IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) technology on more than 350 of the UK’s operational aircraft, naval vessels and ground-based air defence systems to the latest ‘Mode-5’ standard, the company announced Thursday.
The team will upgrade the IFF systems, which automatically recognise whether vehicles are friend or foe, on 31 UK platform types.
IFF technology is central to all military operations as it acts as a modernday ‘challenge and response’ password system based on automated electronic signals.
All NATO nations are mandated to switch to the new Mode-5 standard IFF by 2020, which uses advanced cryptographic techniques to secure the systems against electronic deception by adversaries.
This is important when forces are operating together because ensuring that ground, air and naval crews can reliably recognise their allies is one of the main ways of avoiding so-called ‘friendly fire’ incidents.
Under the contract, Leonardo and HENSOLDT will upgrade UK aircraft, naval vessels and ground-based air-defence systems with an out-of-service date after 2020, which covers 11 aircraft types (managed by Leonardo), 18 naval vessel types and 2 land-based platform types (managed by HENSOLDT). The team will also establish a Mode-5 IFF support hub in the UK.
In addition to NATO forces, other nations which want to conduct operations alongside NATO countries will also need to upgrade to the Mode-5 IFF standard.
Under the agreement, the two companies will offer their combined IFF product portfolios to offer a flexible approach that can be tailored to the needs of different international customers.
For the UK upgrade, the team will provide Leonardo’s M428 Transponder and SIT 2010 cryptographic computer and HENSOLDT’s MSSR 2000 I and MSR 1000 I Interrogator.
Notably, the team offers the only source of cryptography key generation technology available outside of the United States, providing an entirely-European source of Mode 5 IFF capability.