One-pass rescue – the thin line between life and death

A downed pilot. The enemy is searching for him before rescue can get to the area.

The difference between life or death – or between torture and getting back home within hours – depends on the swift locating of the hiding pilot, in what is in many cases “complicated” terrain.

Israel, unfortunately, has vast experience with rescuing downed pilots – and this no doubt spurred the effort to enable the fast locating of pilots forced to bail out over hostile territory.

For the past 20 years Elisra – now part of Elbit Systems – developed personal locator systems for pilots, which have since been used by many air forces. They were selected because of their superior technology.

Last week, Elisra was selected to supply Hyundai J-Comm of South Korea with thousands of AN/PRC-648 search and rescue personal locator beacon (SPLB) units for the Korean navy.

Hyundai will be the prime contractor for the Korean government’s Cospas-Sarsat personal locator beacon programme, and will assemble, test and deliver the AN/PRC-648.

Under the contract, Elisra will be Hyundai’s sole sub-contractor for the production and delivery of the SPLB module kit. Hyundai was granted a license to assemble, test, maintain and repair the AN/PRC-648 in South  Korea.

The AN/PRC-648 is an advanced over-the-horizon Cospas-Sarsat personal locator beacon intended for non-combat search and rescue missions when training or flying over friendly territory. A triple beacon enables the transmission of distress signals over all the internationally recognised emergency frequencies.

Carried in the aircrew’s emergency vest, the AN/PRC-648 SPLB is designed to provide ultra-reliable performance in severe environments. The simple user interface enables single-handedly selecting and operating all the features, even while wearing gloves.

The AN/PRC-648 has an internal G-switch that automatically activates the beacon upon aircrew bailout, while a lanyard-actuated magnetic switch provides for additional mechanical and manual activation options.

A recently incorporated enhancement is a highly sensitive water sensor attachment, which automatically activates the beacon on contact with water.

This feature allows for the use of the AN/PRC-648 in naval applications. A specially designed deep-pressure container, tested for water tightness down to 200 meters, provides for submarine applications as well.

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