June 22 (UPI) -- Leonardo and Hensoldt have received a joint $323 million contract from the British Ministry of Defense for upgrading Identification Friend or Foe systems.
Leonardo and Hensoldt will be partnering on the program as "Team Skytale." The contract covers IFF upgrades fo 31 different vehicles used by the UK, including land, air, and sea platforms.
The upgrade will convert the IFF systems of over 350 aircraft, ships, and ground-based air defense systems to the Mode 5 standard. All NATO nations are required to switch to the Mode 5 by 2020.
The UK conversion will use Leonardo's M428 Transponder and SIT 2010 cryptographic computer, alongside Hensoldt's MSSR 2000 I and MSSR 1000 I interrogators.I
Leonardo has already installed Mode 5 IFF systems on Britain's Eurofighter Typhoons and Queen Elizabeth-class carriers. It is providing the Mode 5 to Saab's Gripen E fighters as well.
Leonardo and Hensoldt hope countries outside of NATO will also convert to the Mode 5 standard to ease joint operations.
Identification Friend or Foe is a coded transponder system that allows friendly forces to identify each other at long ranges. The Mode 5 standard uses updated cryptography to prevent enemy interference with the signals for deception purposes.