FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – On Jan. 28, the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command’s (ATEC) U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground (EPG) was granted Interim Acceptance to conduct testing of the second-generation emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) (second-generation beacons (SGBs)). EPG is now a Cosmicheskaya Sistyema Poiska Avariynich Sudov which means "Space System for the Search of Vessels in Distress” (COSPAS)-Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) approved test facility. EPG is the only formally approved test facility in the world that can test SGBs.
The COSPAS-SARSAT program is an international organization that provides space-based relay of distress signals, or alerts, from emergency beacons that use the 406 megahertz frequency. COSPAS-SARSAT provides the alerts to Search and Rescue (SAR) authorities internationally. Since 1982, over 48,000 people worldwide have been rescued using COSPAS-SARSAT beacons.
First Generation Beacons (FGB) are currently used on land, sea, and air. EPG has been testing First Generation COSPAS-SARSAT beacons since 1997. The new and emerging SGBs are the latest and most advanced COSPAS-SARSAT beacons to date. SGBs new beacon modulation and message schemes provide increased battery-life, improved accuracy, and improved resistance to interference.
EPG is one of only five approved test facilities in existence to test FGBs. Three facilities are located in Russia and one is in the United Kingdom. EPG collaborates closely with other agencies such as the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on COSPAS-SARSAT beacon testing.
Over the past two and a half years, EPGs Global Positioning System (GPS) Laboratory developed the capability to test SGBs to the strict COSPAS-SARSAT standards. As a result, EPG is now formally approved as the only test facility in the world to test SGBs for military, federal, and commercial customers. It is estimated that the other test facilities are one and a half years away from gaining this type of approval.
A few of the FGB test campaigns completed at EPG include the Combat Survivor Evader-Locator, Air Force Ejection Seat survival beacon (Airborne Network/Universal Receiver Transmitter (AN/URT-44)), Navy Submarine and Life Jacket Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons, NASA Orion capsule beacon, and Army Personnel Recovery System (PRSS) FGB.
Current EPG SGB campaigns are Army PRSS SGB, NASA Advance Next Generation Emergency Locator (ANGEL) Personal Locator Beacon, and the Dukane-Seacom ELT.
EPG is proud to be an integral and vital instrument for ensuring life-saving COSPAS-SARSAT beacons operate successfully worldwide. This is truly another example of ATEC testing and research excellence.