Airbus Defence & Space (DS) has been awarded three contracts from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide three additional military aircraft with its cryptographic key management technology. These follow previous contract wins for both the Eurofighter TYPHOON and the Airbus A400M.
The Local Key Management System (LKMS) technology will be supplied to the UK F-35 LIGHTNING II fifth generation fighter aircraft programme, the UK VOYAGER Programme which provides the Royal Air Force (RAF) with an air-to-air refuelling capability, and the UK C-130J HERCULES, which provides the RAF with Tactical Air Transport (TacAT).
The UK MoD has taken delivery of four of the F-35B variant, the short take off/vertical landing design planned for use with the QUEEN ELIZABETH-class Aircraft Carriers. An additional four F-35B aircraft are scheduled to be delivered this year as part of a programme to equip the Royal Navy and RAF with the aircraft. There are currently 14 VOYAGER Aircraft in service with the RAF and 25 C-130J HERCULES.
Developed by Airbus’s team of cryptography experts at its facility in Newport, South Wales, the LKMS technology receives, translates and packages cryptographic keys so that they can be loaded using a single fill gun into the End Crypto Units (ECUs) on the aircraft before every mission. This enables quicker turn-around times and re-profiling for new missions, thus improving the overall efficiency and effectiveness of airborne operations.
The LKMS provides increased flexibility and permits prolonged out-of-area operation through the ability to store and distribute multiple cryptographic keys. It also provides high protection for encrypted data - preventing data compromise that could threaten the safety and security of an aircraft mission.
The three separate contracts will see Airbus Defence and Space design, develop, manufacture, accredit and deliver the LKMS technology, based on modifications to the current system in use with TYPHOON and A400M.