BAE Systems said on Nov. 17 that its Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) transponder for the U.S. Air Force F-22 fighter by Lockheed Martin [LMT] has received certification from the Pentagon’s Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System, Identification Friend or Foe, Mark XII/XIIA System (AIMS) Program Office.

“The IFF transponder waveform integration is part of a U.S. Navy contract to upgrade the Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS) terminal for the U.S. Air Force,” per BAE Systems.

The BAE Systems and Collins Aerospace [RTX] MIDS JTRS is a four-channel radio that runs the Link 16 waveform and up to three more communication protocols, including the Tactical Targeting Network Technology.

The F-22 IFF transponder is compliant with the aircraft’s Link 16/tactical air navigation system waveforms and with the Mode 5 cryptographic standard, BAE Systems said.

In-service military aircraft had to comply with a requirement by the National Security Agency, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and NATO to replace Mode 4 with Mode 5 by June 30 (Defense Daily, Sept. 18, 2019).

Mode 5 IFF is an enhancement to legacy Mode 4 IFF, which uses Morse code-like signals and which has been in use since the mid-1950s for military identification.

Mode 5 upgrades signaling waveforms and allows pilots to interrogate friendly aircraft’s IFF systems at longer ranges using a secure, encrypted code. Rather than changing the code once a day as in Mode 4, Mode 5 relies on modulation techniques to change the code every few seconds to frustrate adversaries.

“This is BAE Systems’ first IFF system on a fifth-generation fighter jet,” Donna Linke-Klein, BAE Systems’ director of tactical systems, said in a statement about the F-22 transponder.

Certifying Mode 5 Level 2 capability for the F-22 transponder “is a necessary step on the path to platform-level AIMS and Federal Aviation Administration certification,” per BAE Systems. “The MIDS JTRS terminal with IFF transponder is in production and undergoing ground and flight testing on-board the F-22 aircraft in preparation for platform-level certification. Operational release to the fleet is planned for 2021.”