The Ministry of Defence has awarded a £260 million contract to supply British forces with new Identify Friend or Foe (IFF) technology.

The MoD say the work will sustain around 150 jobs in Luton, the West of England, Edinburgh and across the UK supply chain.

According to a release received by the UK Defence Journal this afternoon the system is called Mode-5 and was developed for the MoD by Leonardo.

The system uses advanced cryptographic techniques to allow UK land, sea and air units to quickly identify friendly forces and operate safely alongside NATO allies across any battlefield.

“Mode-5 IFF has been designed to give UK units a clear and secure view of potential threats and targets, providing a powerful cyber shield against jamming and interference intended to reduce vital situational awareness.”

The contract will see Leonardo install the system in more than 350 units ranging from Royal Air Force’s Sentry aircraft to the Royal Navy’s Type 45 anti-air destroyers and the British Army’s High Velocity Missile multiple launcher system.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:

“This £260 million contract for battle-winning technology builds on decades of operational experience to keep UK pilots, soldiers and sailors safe on operations.”

According to a press release:

“Less-advanced IFF systems have been used by nations all over the world since the 1940s. Mode-5 uses the same basic ‘call-and-response’ method as earlier systems, but significantly improves on them. Crucially, the system can easily interface with allied forces, reducing the risk of ‘friendly fire’ incidents between UK units and the units of other allies.”

Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas said:

“Advances in digital and cyber warfare mean that it’s never been more important for UK military forces to have the kind of confidence in their situational awareness that Mode-5 IFF instils.

The installation of this world-leading system will continue to give our fighting men and women a decisive edge on operations.”

The new contract will only cover the installation of Mode-5 on pieces of equipment that are in service already with the UK. New platforms will, the MoD say, have contracts awarded to fit them with the technology when they enter service.

Leonardo said in a press release:

“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 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), 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.”

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Mr Bell
Mr Bell
4 years ago

Interesting article. Mod 5 is mandated by NATO so MOD really had no choice but to fund this project. Shows how little high end capacity there is left in UK armed forces though. 360 units of MOD 5 is enough to cover all 3 services.