Hensoldt and Leonardo, working together as ‘Team Skytale,’ are to upgrade the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) systems on over 350 UK platforms, embracing 31 distinct types, in a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) valued at €290 million.
The companies will upgrade capability to the latest Mode-5 standard, which has been mandated for all NATO nations to switch to by 2020. Mode-5 uses advanced cryptographic techniques to secure the systems against electronic deception.
Under the contract, the companies will upgrade legacy 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 – and 18 naval vessel types and two land platforms – managed by Hensoldt, with the team also establishing a Mode-5 IFF support hub in the UK.
The upgrade will incorporate Leonardo’s M428 transponder and SIT 2010 cryptographic computer as well as 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, making the solution readily exportable.
Leonardo has previously delivered Mode-5 IFF for the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter TYPHOONs and the Royal Navy’s (RN) QUEEN ELIZABETH-class aircraft carriers. Leonardo also provides Mode-5 IFF technology for the new Saab GRIPEN-E fighter and has recently demonstrated innovative reverse IFF (air-to-ground) capabilities on Italian TYPHOONs. The company is also currently studying this new capability for the future Eurofighter TYPHOON as part of a UK MoD technology demonstrator programme. Hensoldt is under contract to upgrade German, French, US and other Armed Forces’ platforms with Mode-5 IFF systems. Among others, the company’s IFF equipment is deployed on all German Navy ships as well as several RN ships. The company has also established the air traffic control/IFF network of the German Air Force.
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. To address this requirement, Leonardo has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hensoldt to offer IFF upgrade solutions to customers around the world. 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.