The first RAAF KC-30A tanker to receive Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) upgrades under Project Air 90 has returned to Australia.
The first modification was completed in Spain under contract with Northrop Grumman and Airbus. The remaining fleet will be modified in Australia.
Project Air 90 adds an IFF Mode 5 and an Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) capability onto the KC-30A fleet.
In hostile environments, IFF improves safety through the superior identification of platforms, which reduces the risk of friendly fire. Mode 5 IFF is the latest version of NATO’s friend-or-foe identification system. It is set to be rolled out across all RAAF aircraft to ensure their continuing operation in military and civilian airspace.
ADS-B is the new transponder format being used by civilian and military air traffic control services. It improves safety by enhancing situational awareness, allows self-separation with other aircraft, and improves air traffic management. The entire RAAF fleet is going through the program to fit ADS-B to bring the fleet in line with international regulation responsibilities.
According to Defence, the workload for crews will not change significantly as a result of Air 90, since the modification has replaced and upgraded equipment to the latest standards.
The first in a fleet-wide upgrade of identification transponders on C-130J Hercules transport aircraft was completed by the RAAF in May with the Hawk LIFCAP program also encompassing the technology upgrade.