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AN/PRC-149 Survival Radio

Captain Shannon Doyle (left), a USAF A-10 Tunderbolt II pilot, 75th Fighter Squadron, Pope AFB, NC, is assisted by a U.S. Navy extraction team during a Combined Search And Rescue scenario, Exercise Desert Rescue IX, Fallon Naval Air Station, NV, 25 June 2001
Captain Shannon Doyle (left), a USAF A-10 Tunderbolt II pilot, 75th Fighter Squadron, Pope AFB, NC, is assisted by a U.S. Navy extraction team during a Combined Search And Rescue scenario, Exercise Desert Rescue IX, Fallon Naval Air Station, NV, 25 June 2001.

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AN/PRC-149 Personal Locator Beacon / Voice Transceivers (PLBVT)

The AN/PRC-149 is a handheld, half-duplex, personal emergency communication radio and emergency location beacon transmitter. The radio set operates in the voice transceiver mode on three manually selected emergency frequencies. A triple frequency beacon mode provides transmission on the three international Search And Rescue (SAR) frequencies for position determination by a SAR response team. The AN/PRC-149 is carried in the crewman's survival vest (LPU-28/Tri-Sar) or flight suit and is activated by the crewman in an emergency. The radio set is intended for use in non-combat SAR where it will replace the AN/PRC-90, AN/PRC-112, and AN/PRC-125 radio sets through attrition.

Personal Locator Beacon / Voice Transceivers (PLBVT) AN/PRC-149 disassembly diagram
Personal Locator Beacon / Voice Transceivers (PLBVT) AN/PRC-149 disassembly diagram.

For training purposes, the AN/PRC-149 will be available in a training configuration that provides a single frequency (245.0 MHz) beacon and voice transmitter. In addition, the radio can be outfitted with Swimmer's Radio Control Unit that allows SAR teams hands-free operation of the radio.

In the early 2000's the AN/PRC-149 was procured by the U.S. Navy for Naval aviators from Israeli vendor Tadiran-Spectralink Ltd. Trimble GPS electronics were incorporated by Tadiran and Signal Engineering, Inc. in a joint venture. Tadiran-Spectralink has also provided the AN/URT-140 Radio Beacon to the Navy, a unit with a position beacon that is packed into the pilot's ejection seat for automatic operation upon aircraft emergency egress. At their peak, more than 10,000 AN/PRC-149 Radio Sets were in use in the U.S. Navy aviation communities.

The equipment components have these NSNs assigned:

  • AN/PRC-149 Radio Set P/N 2155-09093-00, NSN 5826-01-466-0186
  • AN/PRC-149A Radio Set, folding antenna P/N 2155-09093-01, NSN 5826-01-527-9209
  • C-12631/PRC-149 Swimmer Control Unit P/N 2155-09073-00, NSN 5998-01-466-0183

Characteristics of the AN/PRC-149 PLBVT

Personal Locator Beacon / Voice Transceivers (PLBVT) AN/PRC-149
Personal Locator Beacon / Voice Transceivers (PLBVT) AN/PRC-149. Photo courtesy Tadiran-Spectralink Ltd.

The Personal Locator Beacon / Voice Transceivers (PLBVT) AN/PRC-149 enables the location of downed aircrew within 100 meters (330 feet) and 20 minutes of radio beacon activation. The Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) capability almost instantly contacts the SAR center upon activation including automatic position reporting. The homing frequencies are 121.5, 243 MHz, and 406.025 MHz with 100mW power. A built-in voice synthesizer provides for transmission of position coordinates on the 282.8 MHz frequency.

The AN/PRC-149 is powered by two D-cell batteries and includes:

  • UHF/VHF stowable blade antenna
  • GPS antenna
  • LED display
  • ON/OFF switch
  • Press To Talk (PTT) switch
  • Electronic microphone
  • Speaker
  • Waterproof headphone

The AN/PRC-149 Radio Set is completely waterproof, but does not float. The receiver will function completely submerged as long as approximately one inch of the antenna is above the surface.

C-12631/PRC-149 Swimmer's Radio Control Unit (SRCU)

C-12631/PRC-149 Swimmer's Radio Control Unit (SRCU)
C-12631/PRC-149 Swimmer's Radio Control Unit (SRCU).

With the addition of the C-12631/PRC-149 Swimmer's Radio Control Unit (SRCU), the AN/PRC-149 radio set is also used as the primary means of communication between the swimmer and the rescue helicopter. The SRCU provides signal and voice communication from the SAR swimmer to SAR aircraft during operations, or from a downed aircrew to SAR party during emergency.

The Swimmer's Radio Control Unit enables hands-free communication so rescue party personnel have full use of their hands for the rescue operation. The SRCU voice box cable connects to the AN/PRC-149. The SRCU then assumes control of the PUSH-TO-TALK (PTT) and volume control functions. Connecting the SRCU disables the corresponding functions in the PRC-149. With the SRCU fastened to a swimmer's vest, the PTT button can be operated with either a hand or the chin.

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