Airbus DS EBS equips South Korean tanker aircraft with sophisticated “Mode 5” encryption technologies

December 21, 2016 Photo(s): By Airbus DS EBS

Airbus DS Electronics and Border Security (EBS), future HENSOLDT, equips the recently ordered A330 MRTT multirole tanker aircraft of the South Korean armed forces with cryptographic technology employing the latest “Mode 5” NATO standard. Under a contract awarded by Airbus Defence and Space, the future HENSOLDT will deliver until beginning of 2018 eight cryptographic computers which will protect the MRTT’s identification systems against hostile spoofing and jamming.

The European-manufactured and US-certified QRTK-crypto computers are the key element of the identification-friend-foe (IFF) systems of armed forces which use the automatic exchange of encrypted signals between ground stations and aircraft to distinguish friendly from hostile forces. Effective identification is necessary to avoid own or allied forces being attacked erroneously by friendly forces. Unlike the “Mode 4” standard used in western armies hitherto, “Mode 5” employs highly sophisticated encryption techniques to avoid hostile signal manipulation, thus ensuring that the identification process is absolutely reliable and secure. By 2019, “Mode 5” will be introduced in all western armies, then being a precondition of joint operations of allied forces.

The future HENSOLDT is under contract to upgrade German, French and UK armed forces’ IFF systems to the “Mode 5” standard. It has already delivered IFF systems – including crypto devices - 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. In Germany, the company has established the air traffic control/IFF network of the German Air Force covering an airspace of 1,700 x 1,500 kilometers. In total, HENSOLDT has more than 400 IFF systems under contract in 42 nations. In the Republic of Korea, Airbus DS EBS has already equipped Korean Air Force and Army’s Low Altitude Radars with its IFF Mode 5 Technology in cooperation with local Korean defence industries.