Leonardo to upgrade Italian Navy NH90s with Mode 5 IFF technology in €11M contract
- The Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system will help NH90 crews to distinguish between friendly forces and potential threats
- The latest ‘Mode 5’ technology means the helicopters will be able to work on joint operations with NATO allies post 2020 when the standard will be mandated
- Leonardo is emerging as Europe’s leader in Mode 5 IFF following a string of international successes for the technology
Leonardo has been awarded a contract worth €11M by the NATO agency NAHEMA, on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Defence (Direzione degli Armamenti Aeronautici e per l’Aeronavigabilità – DAAA), to provide its New Generation Identification Friend or Foe (NGIFF) interrogator, called the SIT434/5, for the Italian Navy NH90 NFHs (Nato Frigate Helicopters). The SIT434/5 has been integrated on the NH90 NFH by Leonardo, and qualification tests on the Italian Navy NH90 have been completed successfully. The Italian MoD will be first to gain Mode 5 IFF capability for their NH90 helicopters.
IFF allows operators to identify friendly forces and distinguish them from potential threats. It does this by transmitting a ‘challenge’ signal to unidentified aircraft and verifying the automatic responses received, effectively a modern-day call-and-response password system. The SIT434/5 interrogator, which was developed under the multinational New-Generation IFF (NGIFF) programme, is the part of an IFF system that sends out the ‘challenge’ signal. In addition to its provision for Italian Forces, Leonardo has sold the interrogator to a number of export customers.
NATO members will need to have Mode 5-compatible equipment, which provides better encryption security and other advantages over older systems, installed by 2020 when the old Mode 4 signal is scheduled to be turned off. This means that the SIT434/5 will allow Italy’s NH90 NFH to continue to operate jointly with NATO allies post-2020. Leonardo also provides a range of other systems for Italy’s NH90 TTH and NH90 NFH helicopters, including a complete Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) capability, radar and mission systems.
Leonardo is emerging as Europe’s leading provider of IFF technology, particularly new ‘Mode 5’ equipment. The company, partnered with Airbus, was chosen as preferred bidder for the UK Ministry of Defence’s programme to upgrade more than 400 operational platforms with Mode 5 equipment. This follows Leonardo’s earlier provision of Mode 5 IFF for the UK Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoons the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
The company also provides Mode 5 IFF technology for the Saab Gripen E fighter and recently demonstrated innovative reverse-IFF (air-to-ground) capabilities on Italian Typhoon aircraft. For ground forces, the company was selected in July to provide its SIT-422/5J interrogator for the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force for a radar programme. The NGIFF SIT434/5 interrogator implements modes SIF, Mode C, Mode S, Mode 4 and Mode 5, through an embedded crypto.