Airbus Defence and Space to modernise German Armed Forces’ ID systems


Airbus Defence and Space will upgrade the German Armed Forces’ identification systems to NATO’s new “Mode 5” IFF (identification-friend-or-foe) standard, which will improve the distinction of friendly and hostile forces, and thus help to avoid friendly fire.

To this end, the German procurement authority awarded Airbus Defence and Space a two-digit million euro follow-on contract to upgrade the existing IFF interrogator and transponder equipment.

The contract covers the adaptation to Mode 5 standard of the existing STR 2000 transponders onboard all flying platforms of the German Armed Forces. Furthermore, the adaptation applies to the MSSR (Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar) 2000 I interrogators in all land-based platforms. Following a first contract awarded in 2013, the next phase of the modernisation programme covered by the current contract is scheduled to last until 2016.

IFF systems, so-called secondary surveillance radars (SSR), precisely identify ships and aircraft by automatically sending interrogation signals, which are answered by so-called transponders on-board the incoming aircraft or ship. Thus, IFF enables field commanders to quickly distinguish friendly from hostile forces. Unlike Mode 4 used hitherto, Mode 5 employs sophisticated encryption techniques to avoid hostile signal manipulation, thus ensuring the identification process is absolutely reliable and secure.

Airbus Defence and Space has already delivered IFF systems to several NATO 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 and the French Navy’s “Mistral” class command ships.

In Germany, the company has established the air traffic control network of the German Air Force covering an airspace of 1 700 x 1 500 kilometres. In total, Airbus Defence and Space has more than 370 systems under contract in approximately 30 nations.