HC Deb 17 June 1997 vol 296 c127W
Mr. Alan Keen

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about his plans to provide the armed forces with a modern identification friend or foe system. [4526]

Mr. Spellar

The UK Armed Forces are to be equipped with a new sophisticated electronic question and answer system so that they can distinguish between friendly and potentially hostile forces for the foreseeable future.

The new system, known as Successor Identification Friend or Foe (SIFF), will replace existing IFF equipments on a wide range of ships and aircraft and on certain air defence installations. It will be compatible with those of our NATO allies. As well as protecting our forces from inadvertent attack by their own side, SIFF will improve their prospects of avoiding detection by hostile units and increase their ability to detect and engage such units, thus ensuring interoperability for the foreseeable future. SIFF will also be compliant with new flight safety rules mandated by the Civil Aviation Authority for all aircraft operating in civilian controlled airspace.

Because SIFF equipment will be fitted to over 50 types of platform, the programme will require very careful planning. Following extensive studies, we have decided to invite competitive tenders for an initial integration study and planning phase, phase 1 of the programme, following which a prime contractor will be selected. The prime contractor will be responsible for the supply and installation of SIFF equipments during the implementation phase of the programme, phase 2. In parallel with this competition, contracts will be placed with the companies who are the platform design authorities to enable them to evaluate and cost the SIFF integration task. It is planned that the competitive invitation to tender for phase 1 of the programme will be issued in July. The total value of the programme phase 1 and phase 2 is estimated to be in the order of £500 million, providing substantial work for British industry.