Rescue Radios Get Boost

Two key upgrades to the Combat Survivor Evader Locator radio will help enhance communications between downed pilots and rescue personnel, said officials at Hanscom AFB, Mass. Previously, the hand-held CSEL devices had only direct communications with rescuers through voice tools. But now, engineers have designed in terminal area communications that provide a secure line-of-sight data connection. This allows the rescuers and stranded airmen “to text message each other securely,” said 1st Lt. Mathew Renner, CSEL test engineer, in Hanscom’s Aug. 17 release. The second upgrade is terminal area guidance that allows the rescue pilot to “ping” the radio of the downed flier and ascertain his location more accurately than previously possible with the radios. The Air Force has begun retrofitting its CSEL radios with the TAC and TAG upgrades, states the release. It also plans to integrate an associated TAC hardware module into rescue platforms such as the A-10 and HH-60 Pave Hawk. (Hanscom report by Patty Welsh)