Military IFF systems, like civil air traffic control radars called secondary surveillance radars (SSR), precisely identify aircraft by automatically sending interrogation signals which are answered by so-called transponders on-board friendly aircraft. Thus, IFF enables field commanders to quickly distinguish friendly from hostile forces and helps avoiding friendly fire incidents. Unlike Mode 4 used hitherto, Mode 5 employs sophisticated encryption techniques to avoid hostile signal manipulation, thus ensuring that the identification process is absolutely reliable and secure. “Mode 5” is in the process of being introduced in all western armies as a precondition of joint operations of US/NATO and allied forces.
Hensoldt is an expert in Mode 5 IFF. It is under contract to upgrade German, French and UK armed forces’ IFF systems to the “Mode 5” standard and has delivered IFF systems – including crypto devices – for ground and naval applications of several NATO nations. Among others, the company’s equipment is deployed on all German Navy ships as well as several UK Royal Navy ships. In total, Hensoldt has more than 700 IFF systems under contract in 42 nations.