Identification of Friendly Submarines

In order to establish and maintain a recognised underwater picture, submerged vehicles have to be detected, localised, tracked, classified and identified. After initial detection, further contact data must be gathered to determine the status, to estimate the potential threat, and to eventually make timely decisions if required. In the case of a positive suspect contact, the classification, particularly the discrimination between friend and foe, is mandatory and vital.

The Identification of Friendly Submarines (IFS) functionality, developed by the COE CSW in collaboration with the Bundeswehr Technical Centre for Ships and Naval Weapons (WTD 71), enables Alliance’s maritime forces to perform underwater identification procedures among submarines as well as between subsurface and surface and/or air units.

This new technical functionality similar to the well-known Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF) used for aircrafts is realised by a software application of digital devices for underwater communication. Until now, no equivalent identification standard exists in NATO for the use in the underwater domain.

By employing IFS, a submarine could automatically and instantly signal its identity to friendly forces in order to prevent blue-on-blue engagements. IFS improves situational awareness and supports Water Space Management.

The Military Committee Maritime Standardization Board (MCMSB) has requested the COE CSW to develop the relevant NATO standardisation documents. The final product, a new NATO Standardisation Agreement (STANAG), will be available in 2018.

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