HENSOLDT has built up the German Armed Forces’ air traffic control/IFF network; shown here is the secondary radar station at Erbeskopf in Western Germany.


HENSOLDT and Leonardo have signed an agreement to offer as “Team Skytale” Mode-5 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) solutions to satisfy diverse customer’s needs around the world on a case-by-case basis. Both companies have already been selected by the UK Ministry of Defence to upgrade IFF systems on more than 450 land, sea and air platforms with an Initial Operational Capability delivery date of June 2019.

IFF systems, also known as secondary surveillance radars (SSR), precisely identify ships and aircraft by automatically sending interrogation signals which are answered by transponders on-board friendly aircraft or ships. Thus, IFF enables field commanders to quickly distinguish friendly from hostile forces. Unlike the previous Mode 4, Mode 5 employs the latest cryptographic techniques to avoid hostile signal manipulation, thus ensuring that the identification process is reliable and secure.

In 2020, all NATO and allied nations are mandated to switch over to the new, more-secure Mode-5 version of the technology and other nations looking to operate alongside NATO forces will also need to be able to interact with the new standard. Leonardo and HENSOLDT are the only companies outside of the United States to be able to offer a cryptographic computer or ‘crypto’ that meets the US Department of Defense SECAN TEMPEST requirements and the AIMS 04-900(A) interface control standard, making Team Skytale’s European solution readily exportable to a wide range of potential international customers.

HENSOLDT is under contract to upgrade German, French, US and other armed forces’ platforms with Mode 5 IFF systems. It has already delivered IFF systems – including crypto devices – to 42 NATO and NATO-allied nations, for ground and naval applications. Among others, the company’s equipment is deployed on all German Navy ships as well as several UK Royal Navy ships. In Germany, the company has established the air traffic control/IFF network of the German Air Force covering an airspace of 1,700 x 1,500 km. In total, HENSOLDT has about 450 IFF systems under contract for more than 80 platform types.