Coast Guard updating search and rescue

Three contractors have been chosen to design a modernized system to fulfill

the U.S. Coast Guard's oldest and most critical mission: search and rescue.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Motorola Inc. and Science Applications International

Corp. were awarded separate contracts this month that total nearly $25 million

to develop, design and demonstrate a state-of-the-art National Distress

and Response System.

The National Distress and Response System Modernization Program, estimated

to be worth $140 million, will update the communications and data systems

the Coast Guard uses to receive 911 calls from recreational boaters and

other mariners and to communicate amongst its own facilities.

Under the study contracts, the companies will survey selected Coast

Guard sites, develop a functional baseline and demonstrate a preliminary

production design, according to a Coast Guard statement.

Some of the new features the Coast Guard wants to incorporate into the

system include a data communications capability the uses commercial terrestrial

and satellite communications and a position location capability that will

automatically locate a mariner in distress.

The current system has 65 communication gaps and other areas not covered.

The modernization design, which will be demonstrated to validate that

each company's system meets critical functions, must include:

* Enhanced VHF-FM coverage to close existing coverage gaps.

* Position location beyond simple directional finding.

* Digital voice recording with immediate enhanced playback capability.

* Multichannel usage.

* Asset tracking.

* Protected communications.

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