AWACS Mode 5 Works

During a multi-service, multi-national exercise last month, Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom AFB, Mass., was able to verify that the new Mode 5-capable interrogator installed on a NATO E-3 AWACS had interoperability with all participants. According to an Aug. 21 release, the Joint Operational Test Approach Operational Assessment provided six-hour combat scenarios that pitched the prototype interrogator against a variety of platforms—fixed and rotary wing aircraft and ships enabled with their own Mode 5 capabilities. Capt. Will Williams, ESC’s Next Generation Friend or Foe program manager, explained that different vendors often interpret specifications “differently.” Williams said the exercise also showed that the AWACS Mode 5, with a little modification of codes by Danny Lopez, with the Cryptologic Systems Group at Lackland AFB, Tex., could correctly identify friend from foe. (Hanscom report by Monica Morales)