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.