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Personnel locator system helps rescue downed pilots.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Special operations pilots are receiving an upgraded personnel locator system that relies on voice and text messaging to rescue downed pilots and aircrews.

The system is Cubic Defense's V12, which is being installed on AS 330 Puma helicopters. The UAE ordered 28 systems to go aboard these helicopters. The Emirates also have eight CH-47 Chinooks poised to receive the personnel locator system, said Craig Campbell, Cubic's director for avionics advanced developments.

Downed pilots use survival radios to communicate with the locator system to enable combat search-and-rescue crews to quickly find and extract them.

"We provide a secure way of interrogating not only for survivors but for all kinds of assets," he said. "It provides a waypoint to enable situational awareness of the mission area and it can be used as a system to locate ground troops, surface ships, vehicles and any types of aircraft."

Cubic built different transponders that can be installed in aircraft and vehicles or can be carried by troops, he explained.

In the United States, for example, the locator system is a key element of command and control where intelligence satellites can fuse with it with real-time data, he said.

"The UAE pushes the technology even further than the United States," he said. "It is used under the same concept as Blue Force Tracking," a satellite-based situational awareness tool, that the U.S. military successfully employed in Iraq.

The system lends itself well to a defined small mission area, said Campbell. "For special operations that is a very good thing because they do not necessarily want to use all the big army or air force equipment," he said. Commandos are looking at a 50-mile terminal area. "They are not interested in theater operations, They are interested in particular objectives with a particular target," he said.

The personnel locator system, in production since 1989, has been used in the U.S as well as by NATO forces, said Campbell. Cubic's competition on the world market is the Israeli company, Tadiran, and Rockwell Collins, France.
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Author:Tiron, Roxana
Publication:National Defense
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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