asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made towards harmonising the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's identification friend or foe.
The recently announced agreement between the United States and German authorities represents considerable progress towards a future NATO identification system. It is hoped that final agreement on outstanding points of technical detail will be reached by the autumn.
It is welcome news to know that we have made some progress in that direction. What proportion of any work on the new IFF will be done in the United Kingdom, and what will this contract mean in terms of the two-way street between Europe and America?
I am not able to give the hon. Gentleman the details for which he has asked. However, I am glad that he welcomes this progress, because it is absolutely essential that we have a common system that operates throughout NATO, particularly in Europe. The progress that has now been made in this direction is most welcome.
Is not the problem with updating and standardising the IFF equipment the fact that the West Germans, the Americans and ourselves all believe that our own respective systems are the best? Would it not be possible to get experts from the NATO countries who are not so involved to come together to make an independent assessment of which is the best?
The progress to which I have referred was important in that the Germans have now agreed to use the D-band, and that is where the difficulty arose. The exact details of that must now be worked out. If that can be done, we can go forward on the basis of a D-band plus radar mode.