AWACS Upgrade Targets Fratricide Reduction

The Air Force has tested a new version of the identification friend or foe, or IFF, system for E-3 AWACS aircraft. It holds the promise of dramatically improving the aircraft’s ability to identify targets, thus decreasing the risk of friendly fire in the air, according to Electronic Systems Center officials at Hanscom AFB, Mass. “The next generation IFF Mode 5 will allow for earlier detection of friendly targets” and maneuvering targets, according to Tricia Hill, who heads this initiative. The testing recently took place at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., with an E-3 Block 30/35 aircraft and supporting F-15s. Initial test results were positive, paving the way for a production decision next spring, pending full review of the test data. The system is also under evaluation for French and NATO Sentries. (Hanscom report by Patty Welsh)