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Spanish technology house Indra has teamed up with Spanish shipyard Navantia to implement the latest NATO standards in identification friend or foe (IFF) systems initially on a ship destined for the export market, the company announced on 31 May 2024, adding that its latest IFF solutions will then be installed in the entire Spanish Navy fleet.

IFF systems allow ships to interrogate unidentified platforms in an area of operations, with encrypted responses – or the lack of them – determining whether a platform is an ally or a potential enemy.

However, such an encryption system must constantly evolve to adapt to new threats, which are becoming increasingly complex, and to prevent any adversary from manipulating the signal. In this regard the latest IFF update introduced by NATO has been what is known as STANAG standard Edition 3 for Mode 5, which is the most advanced interrogation mode available.

Incorporating these cryptographic improvements is mandatory for allied navies and for many other naval forces accustomed to operating jointly with NATO forces. Indra is one of the few companies outside the United States that has this technology and is already implementing it on vessels of several countries.

The company is currently moving towards its certification by the AIMS office of the US Department of Defense: the body responsible for checking that IFF systems meet the required specifications.

Indra’s latest IFF system incorporates other important design improvements that have been designed to allow its customers to adapt to future evolutions of IFF standards by simply reconfiguring the software, which will significantly reduce costs and increase the operability of their fleets. The system is also much more robust, which facilitates maintenance and increases fleet availability, the company noted.

The Spanish Navy frigate Álvaro de Bazán. After initially providing its latest NATO-standard IFF solution for a Navantia-built ship destined for the export market, Indra will be installing it in the entire Spanish Navy fleet. (Photo: Indra)