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The ATC radar beacon system is a descendant, through an extended evolutionary development, of military identification friend or foe (IFF) systems begun during World War II. It is today's primary source of surveillance data for air traffic control and performs this function with a high degree of effectiveness. A number of programs are underway to correct its current deficiencies. Looking to the future, the further automation of air traffic control together with the projected growth of air traffic lead to requirements for improved surveillance and communication capability. A discreteaddress mode of beacon system operation, with integral ground-air-ground data link, is under development to meet these needs.