HANSCOM FB, Mass., July 30 (UPI) -- A new identification-friend-or-foe system has been installed by the U.S. Air Force on an E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.
The AN/UPX-40, replacing the AN/APX-103C system, was installed on the plane at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, the Air Force said. Thirty other operational AWACS aircraft are also scheduled for the upgrade.
"The UPX-40 dramatically improves the detection of weak signals or maneuvering targets at maximum range and improves detection of targets at all ranges," said Nick Grudziecki, deputy manager of the Next-Generation Identificaton Friend or Foe program. "The new interrogation capabilities also provide faster detection of friendly targets."
The IFF system, when coupled with the aircraft's radar and computer sub-systems, provides information on the detection, identification and tracking of enemy and allied low-flying aircraft. It does so by eliminating ground clutter signals that confuse other radars
The Air Force said the NGIFF development program began in 2008 when the National Security Agency mandated a Mode 5 upgrade to ensure reliable combat identification. After successfully reaching a Milestone C decision in 2012, a production contract was awarded to Telephonics Corp., resulting in the first delivery in fiscal 2015.
The IFF upgrade program, worth $60 million, is part of a larger AWACS modernization effort called Block 40/45, which includes the replacement of the AWACS's mission computing and displays with an open system and up-to-date commercial-off-the-shelf hardware and software.
"The role of the E-3 is to carry out airborne surveillance and command, control and communication functions for both tactical and air defense forces," said Lt. Col. Chris Williams, E-3 Netcentric Capabilities Branch materiel leader. "The interrogator is a vital piece of equipment required for AWACS to meet mission needs. With the successful installation of the first UPX-40 system, we are one step closer to equipping the fleet."