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AtoN Support Systems - Radar Beacons (RACONs)

IMO MSC79 approved new radar performance standards in Resolution 192(79) which removed the requirement for S-Band Radars to trigger racons. This was intended to facilitate the introduction of "new technology" (*NT) to enable future radars to meet the more stringent limits being imposed on spurious and out of band emissions.

It is expected that the new technology will improve target detection in clutter and therefore safety, but these radars will probably not trigger racons.

The GLAs consider Racons a very important Aid-to-Navigation, since they provide an independent means of identifying and locating marks in poor visibility and without reliance on GNSS. S-Band is particularly useful in heavy rain clutter conditions. It is generally recognised that S band radar is preferred as the ARPA / collision avoidance radar due to its detection and display properties.

Racons that are compatible with the new radar technologies could be developed, but there are currently no industry standards or recommendations for these new technologies.

R&RNAV is coordinating work within the GLAs to assess the effectiveness of existing racons with New Technology (NT*) radars, in addition to assessing new technology RACONS with conventional radars. 

New Technology radars use coherent, FM/CW, low-power, solid-state technology to enhance target detection in clutter, increase reliability and improve spectrum efficiency. The IMO has removed the requirement for S Band radars to trigger racons, to encourage these developments. However, there is still a significant navigational benefit  from S Band racons and there are various ways of ensuring that the service can be maintained.