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.




Hensoldt and Leonardo have combined their IFF offerings under the ‘Team Skytale’ banner. Leonardo has previously delivered Mode-5 IFF for the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter TYPHOONs. (Photo: Eurofighter)

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