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South Korea’s arms procurement agency has started issuing a request for proposals for switching the decades-old Mode-4 Identification Friend or Foe, or IFF, system to the latest Mode-5 system. The upgrade program is in line with the transfer of IFF systems to the Mode-5 version by the U.S military, as the South Korean military conducts key operations with U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula under the authority of the Combined Forces Command.

By 2020, all NATO nations are required to introduce the Mode-5 systems, using advanced cryptographic techniques to secure their systems against electronic deception by adversaries.

Thousands of South Korean jet fighters, helicopters, warships and missile systems will be fitted with sophisticated identifications technologies by the mid-2020s under this  $2.2 billion weapons upgrade program, according to

“This is a huge program as for the numbers and budget, and is strategically important to upgrading the battlefield capability of the South Korean military and its joint operations with allied forces,” said Kim Dae-young, a military analyst at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy.

“The new encrypted system will allow South Korean and its allied troops to work safely together, reducing the risk of friendly fire incidents, and it will also offer commanders a better view of the battlefield,” Kim added.

IFF works by sending coded signals, with equipment on friendly planes and ships able to receive and instantly decode the encrypted challenge message, then send the appropriate response to identify themselves.

Unlike the installation of the Mode-4, the technologies of which belong to foreign IFF makers, domestic companies are involved in the Mode-5 systems development and will locally produce the equipment for cost-effectiveness and sustainable integrated logistics support, according to Defense Acquisition Program Administration officials.