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AFLCMC fielding new Personnel Locator Beacons


Tech. Sgt. Brandon Dutreix, 403rd Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment craftsman, instructs Senior Airman Tabitha Williams, 403rd OSS aircrew flight equipment journeyman, on how to assemble and inspect an AN/URT-44 personnel locator beacon January 10, 2015. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Agile Combat Support Directorate is currently fielding 12,000 new personnel locator beacons to replace the URT-44. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – In an effort to improve aircrew safety and save lives, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Agile Combat Support Directorate headquartered here is fielding 12,000 new personnel locator beacons to aircrews in most fixed wing aircraft across the Air Force fleet.

Known as the URT-46, the beacons are being installed in ejection seats and parachutes and are designed to help search and rescue teams locate aviators in the event they eject or bail out/exit their aircraft during flight.

The beacons will replace the legacy URT-44 beacons which over the years have experienced a number of failures.

“We needed a good replacement, with improved reliability and that’s what we are getting with the URT-46,” said 2nd Lt. Cody Ray, program manager for the beacon. “There have been updates including improved circuit boards, antennas and capacitors, higher quality components and better protection against water intrusion.”

At approximately $1,200 a unit, the new beacons are roughly half the cost of the legacy beacons.

Fielding for ejection seat aircraft will be completed by March 2019 and fielding for bailout aircraft will be complete by the beginning of 2020.

Personnel locator beacons are a critical component due to their potential to save lives by allowing search and rescue crews to quickly locate downed aircrew who ejected or bailed out of an aircraft,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Gillette, branch chief for Egress and Survival. “Our priority is to field equipment and devices that save and improves the quality of life for Airmen around the world, and we are excited to field the locator beacon.”