Cassidian's advanced identification systems provide combat aircraft with a new capability

London11 September 2013

  • Reverse IFF enables sophisticated early detection of friendly forces before weapon employment
  • Implementation possible without major modifications in aircraft equipment.
The Bold Quest'13 exercise demonstrated the advanced status of Cassidian's IFF equipment – to be seen here the IFF ground station and a German C160 The Bold Quest'13 exercise demonstrated the advanced status of Cassidian's IFF equipment – to be seen here the IFF ground station and a German C160 "Transall". (c) Cassidian

Cassidian, the defence division of EADS, has implemented a new capability of battlefield identification which allows combat aircraft and helicopters to reliably identify friendly forces in a pre-defined area before the use of weapons and thus avoiding Casualties from friendly fire.

As reported by the company during the DSEI exhibition in London, Cassidian has successfully tested the enhancement of equipment used in military missions to distinguish friendly forces from hostile, the so-called Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF). This enhancement, called Reverse IFF (RIFF), allows aircraft to locate friendly forces in a pre-defined ground area by emitting interrogation signals. Previously, aircraft only responded to enquiries sent from ground-based interrogators but had no technical means themselves to identify ground forces.

“Our Reverse IFF solution is based on the latest NATO IFF standard, Mode 5, which cannot be intercepted by hostile forces due to our sophisticated encryption techniques linked to it,” said Elmar Compans, Head of Cassidian Sensors & Electronic Warfare.

Mode 5 RIFF enables aircraft and helicopters to use Cassidian transponders for air-ground interrogations in addition to their current function responding to interrogations from ground stations. This way, airborne platforms receive a valuable new capability without substantial modifications in aircraft equipment.

Cassidian has tested the new capability in several campaigns, the most recent conducted at the end of August on the German test area of Baumholder. Prior to that, the company supported the German forces in the Bold Quest 2013 exercise held mainly in North Carolina/USA, with equipment from the whole IFF action chain: MSSR 2000 I (MSSR - Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar) interrogators deployed in ground stations (http://; LTR 400 (LTR - Lightweight Transponder) transponders employed in a German Luftwaffe C160 "Transall" mission aircraft ( and the latest QRTK 3/4NG cryptographic computers. Complete interoperability with in-service allied IFF Mode 4 and 5 equipment was proven. This successfully demonstrated the proper employment of the next-generation IFF standard Mode 5, which is to be introduced in NATO forces from 2014.

IFF procedures are employed in military missions according to standardised question-and-answer signals in order to quickly recognise friendly incoming aircraft, and to support the decision whether to engage the aircraft or not. Different from hitherto utilised systems, Cassidian's IFF products employ highly sophisticated encryption techniques to avoid hostile signal manipulation.

Cassidian has delivered IFF systems to several NATO nations for ground, naval and air applications ( Amongst others, the long range interrogator MSSR 2000 I protects all German Navy ships as well as UK Royal Navy ships and the French Navy’s BPC command ships. It is also employed in all long range air defence radars of Germany and the UK. In Germany, Cassidian has established the air traffic control network of the German Luftwaffe covering an airspace of 1,700 x 1,500 km. In total, Cassidian has more than 370 systems in approx. 30 nations under contract, including the United States.


Cassidian, the defence division of EADS, is a worldwide leader in defence and security solutions. The company delivers advanced defence systems along the whole action chain from sensors through command & control systems to combat aircraft and unmanned air systems. In the area of security, Cassidian provides customers worldwide with border surveillance systems, cyber security solutions and secure communications. In 2012, Cassidian – with around 23,000 employees – achieved revenues of € 5.7 billion.


Lothar Belz
Head of Technology / Trade Press
Airbus Defence and Space
Tel.: +49 7 31 3 92 36 81
Fax: +49 7 31 3 92 37 55


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