The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has deployed Globalstar Europe Satellite Services’ SPOT Gen4 satellite GPS messengers to track and provide safety for Royal Air Force (RAF) Force Protection personnel during training exercises at RAF Honington.
RAF Force Protection is responsible for protecting the RAF at home and abroad, and RAF Honington Station in Suffolk is its headquarters. The Station hosts initial and ongoing specialist training for the RAF’s entire Force Protection capability.
As of April 2022, every Force Protection service person participating in training exercises, which are carried out in rugged and isolated areas, are safeguarded by reliable tracking and SOS support thanks to their SPOT Gen4 devices and Globalstar’s enabling fleet of satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).
RAF Force Protection previously used a tracking system based on GSM mobile technology, but it was deemed to have insufficient reach across all remote training locations. Additionally, the GSM-based system was not cost-effective.
Other satellite-based systems were also evaluated, but SPOT Gen4 was determined the ideal solution due to its ruggedness, ease of use, and economy. The flexibility, cost-efficiency and convenience of Globalstar’s unlimited airtime packages were also strong influencers in the MoD’s procurement decision.
“The RAF Regiment are at the heart of Next Generation Force Protection for Air & Space Power. Their arduous training, which enables them to operate in the highest risk environments, demands that we provide the most advanced capabilities to reliably track our servicepeople in training, and to know that they’re OK at all times,” said Air Commodore Jamie Thompson, Force Protection Force Commander and Air Officer Force Protection. “Thanks to the reach and reliability of Globalstar’s satellite network and SPOT Gen4, we now have the assurance that we can continuously monitor our personnel as they carry out their training exercises, and that they can rapidly get emergency help if needed.”
In the event of an emergency, one press of SPOT’s SOS button instantly sends an alert along with the user’s GPS co-ordinates to an operations center to facilitate speedy rescue.
The deployment was facilitated by Globalstar’s specialist partner, Centerprise International. Established in 1983, Centerprise has long been a key and trusted supplier of IT software and hardware to the UK MoD.
“Personnel safety is a high priority for the MoD during training and we’re delighted that Globalstar’s SPOT Gen4 devices are now enabling RAF Force Protection to reliably monitor its teams during rigorous field exercises, and ensuring that users get urgent assistance if ever needed,” said Mark Brady, Director, Defense & Security at Centerprise International.
SPOT Gen4 is the newest member of Globalstar’s award-winning SPOT device family. Launched in EMEA in August 2020, latest generation SPOT Gen4 offers enhanced mapping interfaces, more display options, improved water resistance, and geofencing, among other improvements.
The buttons on SPOT Gen4 can be flexibly configured to send pre-programmed messages, with options for transmission types. Users can check in with colleagues via the OK button and SPOT can be used for other non-emergency communications using the Help button.
“We’re extremely proud that the UK MoD selected SPOT Gen4 to support RAF Force Protection, enabling tracking and SOS emergency help for personnel as they participate in essential training,” said Mark O’Connell, General Manager EMEA and APAC at Globalstar.
The SPOT family of devices is to date credited with over 8,500 rescues worldwide.