Leonardo Signs Strategic Technology Partnership with Leading South Korean Defence Company

Leonardo has been selected by a Korea-based defense company, LIG Nex1 as a strategic technology partner. The two companies will initially bid together to carry out the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Agency (DAPA)’s IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) upgrade requirement. This will see the IFF equipment on aircraft operated by RoK Armed Forces updated to the latest ‘Mode 5’ standard. The announcement was made at the Indo Defence 2018 Expo & Forum in Jakarta.

IFF is central to military operations as it allows armed forces to recognize friends and identify potential hostiles. The equipment acts as a sophisticated digital version of a ‘challenge and response’ password system, sending out a challenge signal and checking it receives a correct password. The latest Mode 5 standard equipment uses advanced cryptographic techniques to secure the IFF system against attempts by enemies to deceive or jam.

Leonardo is already working on a high-profile IFF upgrade programme in the UK as prime contractor to upgrade the IFF technology on more than 350 of the UK’s operational aircraft, naval vessels and ground-based air defence systems to the Mode 5 standard. In the Republic of Korea, it will draw on this experience to reduce the risk of the upgrade programme and also plans to localize production of key parts of the equipment in-country.

The selection is the latest highlight in Leonardo’s on-going approach to localization in the Republic of Korea. In 2017, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a leading Korean defence contractor to jointly provide avionics and mission systems, initially in relation to targeting systems, for the Republic of Korea and internationally. Prior to this, it executed an Electronic Warfare Operational Support (EWOS) knowledge transfer programme for members of the RoK Navy, Air Force and the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), ensuring that South Korea’s armed forces are prepared for today’s electronics-driven battlespace. 

Leonardo’s AW159 helicopter is also in operational service with the RoK Navy. The helicopters are equipped with the same Leonardo ‘Seaspray’ Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars and Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (HIDAS) that are also used by the UK’s Royal Navy on their AW159 Wildcat helicopters and carry the company’s latest-generation SAGE electronic warfare systems.