PATUXENT RIVER, Md. --- A new era in aircraft recognition is on the horizon with the projected first flight of the Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system aboard an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet expected this winter.
The Naval Air Traffic Management Systems (PMA-213) program office here leads the Mode 5 effort to upgrade the IFF system in use by the United States and its allies for more than 45 years.
Mode 5 IFF provides the warfighter with positive, secure and reliable line-of-sight identification of friendly air and surface platforms. This system is projected to improve situational awareness while reducing the chances of friendly fire incidents and enemy disruption of IFF functions, said Christina Hall, deputy program manager for PMA-213’s Combat Identification program.
“Mode 5 is designed to be compatible with military and civilian IFF modes,” said Hall. “This ensures interoperability of military and civilian aircraft. The Navy is planning to acquire Mode 5 systems to equip and field on nearly every surface, subsurface and airborne platform in the fleet, as well as U.S. Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command vessels.”
The system recently underwent Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) and was rated “Effective and Suitable.” Testing of the system was conducted on multiple ship and airborne platforms including guided missile destroyers (DDG), cruisers (CG), fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft.
“The Mode 5 IOT&E was a truly integrated test effort,” said Tracy Wathen, Program Executive Office for Tactical Aircraft assistant executive officer for Test and Evaluation. “The Integrated Test Team showed great planning and facilitated data sharing with the Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force to supplement their test points.”
Once fielded, Mode 5 IFF is expected to meet Joint Initial Operational Capability requirements in fiscal year 2014 with Joint Full Operational Capability. There is also a plan to use this capability on several Navy Unmanned Air Systems.
“This has been a long-term project with a long list of people who have helped to achieve a Full Rate Production decision,” said Capt. Darrell Lack, Naval Air Traffic Management Systems (PMA-213) program manager. “The Mode 5 capability brings an order of magnitude increase in confidence of secure identification and level of situational awareness to the warfighter.”