Army evaluating prototypes from four companies for rugged SATCOM personnel locator beacon

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 17 Oct. 2016. U.S. Army air safety experts are working with four companies to develop a new small size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP) satellite communications (SATCOM) personnel locator beacon to find and rescue downed aircraft pilots in rugged terrain or behind enemy lines.

Oct 17th, 2016
Content Dam Mae Online Articles 2016 10 Locator Beacon 12 Oct 2016
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 17 Oct. 2016. U.S. Army air safety experts are working with four companies to develop a new small size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP) satellite communications (SATCOM) personnel locator beacon to find and rescue downed aircraft pilots in rugged terrain or behind enemy lines.

Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., have asked the four companies each to develop four prototype militarized personal locator beacons that could be integrated into the Army's Personnel Recovery Support System (PRSS).

The companies that won PRSS contracts are the Boeing Co. Defense, Space & Security segment in St. Louis ($1.6 million); STS International Inc. in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. ($1.1 million); McMurdo Inc. in Lanham, Md. ($649,500); and BriarTek Inc. in Alexandria, Va. ($516,500).

The Army Contracting Command awarded the contracts last April on behalf of the Army Air Warrior Product Manager Office at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.

These contracts are part of the Army's PRSS Increment 1b program, which consists of a new mil-spec personal locator beacon designated the Personnel Recover Device (PRD). The four companies are submitting their prototype devices for evaluation, and the Army will select one company for full production.

Related: U.S. Coast Guard buys up to 16,000 McMurdo emergency distress/personal locator beacons to enhance crew safety

The PRD will transmit open and secure waveforms, and provide an operation transport layer of SATCOM receivers integrated into a military search, rescue, and personnel recovery network architecture.

The companies are developing handheld devices that act as alert-and-notification systems that a soldier has become isolated, missing, detained, or captured.

The PRD will increase the soldiers' chances of recovery through secure enhanced capabilities, improved accuracy and latency, decreased size, weight, and power requirements, as compared to devices involved in the PRSS Increment 1a project.

Each prototype PRD will have user changeable configuration parameters. The prototypes must be able to transmit non-secure international distress signals on the COSPAS-SARSAT frequency of 406 MHz, as well as secure signals for covert search and rescue. Tests will involve frequency stability, waveform compliance, data encoding, spurious emissions, and output power.

For more information contact Boeing Defense, Space & Security online at www.boeing.com/defense, STS International at www.stsint.com, McMurdo Inc. at www.mcmurdogroup.com, or BriarTek at www.briartek.com.

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