Emergency radios from Boeing to be ordered for downed pilots and other isolated personnel

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass., 27 May 2014. U.S. Air Force radio communications experts have revealed a plan to order 512 AN/PRQ-7A hand-held emergency radios for downed aircraft pilots from the manufacturer, the Boeing Co. Defense, Space & Security segment in St. Louis.

Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., say they place the order with Boeing sometime in September. The value of the order for the RF and microwave equipment has yet to be negotiated.

The AN/PRQ-7 is an integral component of the combat survivor evader locator (CSEL) system, which is the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) program of record for joint search and rescue. CSEL gives search-and-rescue forces precise geo-positioning information and secure over-the-horizon and line-of-sight two-way data communications.

The AN/PRQ-7 is a multifunction handheld radio that enables the warfighter to communicate position and text messages securely through the CSEL UHF satellite communications (SATCOM) network. This system enables the user to transmit and receive position and text message using a secure UHF SATCOM data link to the CSEL UHF SATCOM base station and national asset system.

Related: Navy sets sights on new combat survivor evader locator survival radio for downed pilots

The AN/PRQ-7 radio is software programmable and upgradable; has a selective-availability anti-spoofing module (SAASM)-based GPS receiver for precise navigation; NSA certified encryption and decryption of over-the-horizon and line-of-sight messages; night-vision-goggle-compatible liquid crystal display; wideband flat-blade antenna; operates in temperatures from -20 to 55 degrees Celsius; and is waterproof to 10 meters of immersion.

The CSEL, of which the AN/PRC-7 radio is a component, provides global coverage for DOD forces worldwide. The system enables joint personnel recovery centers (JPRCs) and recovery forces to locate, authenticate, and communicate with isolated personnel in near real-time anywhere in the world.

The CSEL program is in full-rate production by Boeing. Managing the contract are officials of the Joint Program Office for Personnel Recovery at the Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base.

Related: Canadian research could lead to running JTRS-compatible radio waveforms on Android smartphones and tablets

The CSEL and its AN/PRC-7 radio are replacing equipment that was effective only if friendly forces were within line-of-sight. This older equipment offered very little to counter the possibility of enemy intercept or jamming.

The Boeing CSEL system is based on a flexible, modular communication architecture over several satellite links for dependable and secure satellite communications, line-of-sight voice communications, global position, navigation and beacon functions.

When activated by downed pilots or other isolated warfighters, the AN/PRC-7 CSEL handheld radio automatically and securely transmits its GPS location and identification information, and helps the stricken pilot and rescuers share messages on the pilot's physical condition, enemy location, rescue plans, and other important information.

For more information contact Boeing Defense, Space & Security online at www.boeing.com/boeing/bds, or the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base at www.hanscom.af.mil/units.

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