The Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft is to become the first aircraft to feature a new encryption technology called the aircraft crypto variable management unit (ACVMU).

The technology, a variant of Ectocryp Steel developed by EADS with Raytheon’s support, is designed to manage electronic key distribution for multiple communication systems on board an aircraft using one secure single point.

Modern military aircraft and ground installations require multiple communications systems to operate in a network centric environment including radio, IFF, GPS and data links.

The security need also necessitates multiple cryptographic protection devices with different requirements for key variables and fill devices that require erasure and rekeying between missions when aircraft are powered down.

Ectocryp Steel, with a suite of security mechanisms and a full erase function, allows crews to preload and store multiple mission scenarios and improve mission responsiveness, reducing key filling errors.

The technology brings down the through-life costs for an aircraft fleet of 350 over 20 years from over £200m to about £26m, EADS claims.

The encryption technology will be installed on Eurofighter in early 2010.