Dutch Defense Ministry Deploys Globalstar Devices to Track Paratroopers
Wednesday, February 02, 2022 | Comments

The Netherlands Ministry of Defense (MoD) deployed 120 SPOT Gen 4 satellite GPS messengers from Globalstar Europe Satellite Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar, to track and provide safety for paratroopers.

The Dutch MoD carried out extensive testing and trials of SPOT Gen4. The device proved to be the ideal solution for the MoD’s needs, and capable of delivering superior, reliable performance in all the highly challenging contexts that paratroopers face.

Other technologies and solutions were trialed and evaluated. For example, four years ago, the organization procured GPS trackers from another provider. These used 3G telecom technology however and very soon were dismissed as unable to provide sufficient coverage and reliability.

It is essential for operational teams that SPOT Gen4 performs flawlessly in very extreme conditions. Paratrooper training is grueling and inherently dangerous. Military personnel engage in exercises that see them jumping from aircraft any time of day or night, in any climate, with full military kit. Skydive jumps in darkness require the addition of night vision equipment to the service person’s necessary gear.

The Netherlands’ paratroopers undergo training internationally in a wide range of challenging operational environments. Skydiving exercises are conducted in the rugged mountains of Switzerland, France and elsewhere in Europe as well as locations throughout the North American Rockies. Training for desert operations takes place across the expansive plains of Arizona and California, as well as in Europe, all remote locations where conventional terrestrial communications networks can’t reliably reach.

In addition to skydiving in far-flung locations, paratroopers must endure extremes in temperature. Teams carrying out winter parachuting exercises in Scandinavia routinely endure -20 degrees Celsius temperatures that can plummet to -60 degrees Celsius at very high altitudes, from where the paratrooper needs to jump carrying an oxygen supply. The Dutch MoD gained further confidence in SPOT’s effectiveness following referral and recommendation from its Belgian counterpart.

Some Army and Marines paratrooper teams have a separate radio-based communications system, which can be connected with satellite GPS, but this solution is expensive and not universally available to all operational units.

SPOT’s reliable connectivity, enabled by Globalstar’s satellite fleet in low-Earth-Orbit, was the pre-eminent factor in the MoD’s procurement decision. SPOT’s ease of use, particularly in the intense context of being used while parachuting, was also pivotal.

“We’re extremely proud that the Dutch MoD has selected SPOT Gen4 to support paratroopers as they engage in their mission-critical training,” said Mark O’Connell, general manager EMEA and APAC at Globalstar.

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