Combat survival radios such as the HOOK3 from General Dynamics Mission Systems are usually not associated with search-and-rescue efforts. But the versatile combat radio was recently used in a simulated rescue mission to locate a NASA crew after an aborted space launch. The simulation involved finding the NASA crew after splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean and out of range (and out of reach) of normally available rescue resources. The weeklong test and simulation was held at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
An Air Force C-17 aircraft served as the rescue vehicle, flying to the last known location of the downed NASA flight capsule. With General Dynamics’ HOOK3 radio technical team member Jon Wootten onboard the space capsule with one radio and fellow team member Tom Hams using the firm’s QuickDraw2 Interrogator inside the C-17 aircraft, the two were able to communicate as part of simulated rescue efforts over a distance of 90 nautical miles.
Using the HOOK3 radio, the rescuers and capsule crew quickly communicated to ensure the raft had all the emergency gear necessary before the Air Force pararescue jumpers parachuted from the C-17 to stabilize the capsule and wait for rescue. Following the simulated rescue, Wootten said: “This is why it is so important to equip the C-17 with combat search and rescue gear, which hopefully never has to be used. Before this, the C-17 was not a rescue aircraft.”