A next-generation system that identifies friendly aircraft is being rolled out across multiple UK platforms, say DE&S.

Mode 5 uses advanced cryptographic techniques and world-leading electronic technology to allow UK land, sea and air units to quickly identify friendly forces, thereby operating safely alongside NATO allies across any battlefield and significantly reducing the risk of friendly fire.

“The current system that is being used will cease this year and, without Mode 5 – its replacement system – the UK would be unable to deploy on coalition operations overseas. The MOD has invested £260 million in installing the secure Identify Friend or Foe (IFF) technology to 31 types of aircraft, ship, vehicles and even radar through the Mode 5 project – that’s more than 400 individual platforms covering air, land and maritime environments. The DE&S Mode 5 team in the Air Support Operating Centre leads the contract with Leonardo MW on the design, integration onto platforms and initial inservice support. The team also provides IFF technical support to DE&S platform delivery teams.”

Robin Kelly, Mode 5 project manager at DE&S, said:

“Mode 5 significantly reduces the risk of friendly fire and ensures our servicemen and women can operate confidently alongside the UK’s allies and partners. The challenge for the Mode 5 team and its stakeholders has been to deliver this critical capability across multiple platforms whilst facing a demanding, immoveable sunset date for the legacy system.”

DE&S say that in recent months – the Mode 5 project has initiated – and in some cases already completed – successful trials on several platforms. These include Puma, Merlin, Chinook, Type 102 radar, Watchkeeper, Type 23 frigate and mine countermeasure vessels.

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Let’s hope the Americans update or renew their systems lol

Christopher Allen

Funny, I was thinking the same thing.


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What the article does say is that the IFF Mode 5 upgrade is a NATO requirement and is actually a couple of years late. The system is going to supplement and replace the encrypted Mode 4, where it was feared the encryption could be more easily compromised.