A US Air Force fifth-generation airborne identification friend or foe system has shown zero interference with European air traffic control in an overseas ground and flight testing onboard a Nato airborne warning and control system (AWACS).
The prototype waveform, mode 5-capable UPX 40 ground tested by Eurocontrol, was designed to interfere less with the US and international civil air traffic control functions.
The zero-interference capability is significant as the US and Europe civil air traffic control agencies won’t allow mode-5 use if it interferes with maintenance of aircraft safe separation standards.
Used on the AWACS, the interrogator radiates a waveform to determine information such as aircraft identification and altitude, and determines if aircraft are friendly or otherwise.
The mode-5 waveform identifies both military and civilian aircraft with range, bearing and elevation information, and also provides platform-specific information.
The system enables the USAF to pin-point targets in densely packed environments and also interoperates with other forces.
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The US Defense Department and Nato forces are transitioning into mode-5 capability.
In July 2009, the mode 5 joint operational test approach will demonstrate the system’s capability to interoperate among differing platforms, military services and manufacturers.
The US Air Force is further developing mode-5 capability in preparation for a production decision in 2011.