(Leiden/ Yuma, Arizona, October 19, 2009) -- Dutch Space and the Netherlands Defense have signed an agreement on the delivery of 15 Smart Parafoil Autonomous Delivery Systems (SPADES). SPADES is a reusable parachute system that is capable to fully autonomously deliver supplies of up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs) to any desired location in remote or dangerous areas in support of military or humanitarian missions. The news was announced internationally during PATCAD, the esteemed biennial conference for precision airdrop technology in the US.
When dropped from an aircraft at high altitude, the SPADES system uses GPS and an advanced guidance, navigation and control system to accurately fly itself from a large distance to a pre-programmed location point on the ground. With its 50 meter average landing accuracy, SPADES can pin-point the delivery of goods to where these are actually needed. This significantly reduces the logistic footprint and greatly enhances the safety and flexibility of airdrop and ground-based operations. The development of SPADES is the result of a close cooperation between Defense, industry (Dutch Space) and institutions (NLR). The Netherlands Defense is the launching customer of the innovative product.
Bart Reijnen, CEO of Dutch Space: "We are proud to put this front-running European precision airdrop system to work for our own national Defense customers. With our heritage in parachute recovery systems for space launchers and re-entry vehicles, we have been able to develop a state-of-the art delivery technology together with strong partners such as NLR. This system will provide the Netherlands Defense with a smart and safe solution for future missions".
Air Commodore Madelein Spit of the Netherlands Defense Material Organization (DMO): "We are anxious to start training our Special Operations Forces with the SPADES systems in 2010. These systems will enhance our tactical operation capabilities and contribute to the success of our missions in peace keeping areas such as Afghanistan."
The SPADES system has been developed by Dutch Space in close collaboration with the National Aerospace Laboratory NLR, the Dutch Defense R&D branche, Special Operations Forces (SOF) and the Royal Netherlands Airforce (RNLAF). The innovation started in 2001 and resulted in the successful testing of a first prototype in 2003. After that, Dutch Space and NLR, the latter being responsible for the control software, further developed and built the system as commercial available product, in close co-ordination with SOF and RNLAF users throughout the project.
Fred Abbink, General Director of NLR: "Based on our extensive experience with technologically advanced control software, military regulations and support of defense and security operations, NLR has been able to contribute to this innovative and world-class autonomous parafoil system produced by Dutch Space".
Part of the agreement with DMO is that the SPADES system will be certified against new military airworthiness requirements. Completion of the certification process is planned for beginning 2010.
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