uAvionix has launched a lineup of Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) solutions for small, tactical, and attritable UAV defense platforms. Incorporation of IFF technology into these platforms allows them full participation into the cross-troop, cross-service branch, and cross-nation collaboration and situational awareness that prevents fratricide.
The IFF concept enables the warfighter — and/or another aircraft — to instantly determine if an entity encountered is friendly or hostile. With aircraft, the specific technology employed is an IFF transponder.
Attritable UAV platforms reflect a shift in the future make-up of U.S. air squadrons, emphasizing lower-cost unmanned craft that can be reused several times with minimal maintenance, and eventually be expendable. The term is an apparent reference to “attrition,” wearing down the enemy by sustained attacks to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and material.
While small UAVs, sometimes designed to act in swarms, are ultimately expendable, they are still not cheap, and collateral damage should be avoided if possible. Thus the need for an IFF. For example, a UAV transporting ammunition or medical supplies to a forward base should be able to assure its intended recipients that that it is not an enemy UAV with deadly intent masquerading as a friend. Small UAVs cannot carry the IFF transponders designed for larger airframes. Thus the need for micro IFFs.
The uAvionix lineup consists of two different micro IFF transponders, a certified GPS, a passive IFF receiver, a tactical display system, and a crypto appliqué emulator which allows for non-classified testing and demonstration. The IFF transponders are in certification testing with the Department of Defense (DoD) Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System Identification Friend or Foe Program Office (AIMS PO), with the first Mark XIIB certification expected certification in Q1 2021.
uAvionix currently holds 15 FAA TSO and STC certifications with an additional 4 pending approval in the FAA Aircraft Certification Office (ACO). The combination of this certification credibility and innovation in product capability and low Size, Weight, and Power Consumption (SWaP) propel uAvionix to the leadership role in civil and defense UAV avionics.
The company quotes Inside Unmanned columnist Maj Gen USAF (ret) James Poss: “AIMS certified Mode V micro IFF transponders are a game changer for small and attritable remotely piloted aircraft. Without Mode V IFF, our own swarms of small UAVs will cause more confusion and fratricide on our side than the enemy will cause with their UAV fleet. Mode V on small UAVs wasn’t possible until now. They are now a “must have” and “can equip” for nearly anything that can fly.”