Marine Paratroopers Use GPS Tracking
When the United States completed work on the GPS satellite network decades ago, the intention was to improve the capabilities of various national law enforcement bodies such as the Marine, Army, Navy, and Air Force. While the useful applications of the GPS system have expanded exponentially since then into areas including (but by no means limited to) corporate fleet tracking, personal vehicle tracking, and geological surveying, new and innovative uses are still being engineered and implemented by the various sectors of our nation’s law enforcement personnel. One of the most high-tech and futuristic-looking of these innovations comes to us courtesy of the United States Marines, who have reached an agreement to implement GPS technology into the helmets of elite paratrooper divisions.
Parachutists in the Marines take on some of the most daunting and dangerous missions of any specialized national law enforcement group. Their objectives typically consist of dropping out of planes and high altitudes in the dead of night, and precise parachute landing into enemy territory is critical to avoid detection. While Marine parachutists have traditionally relied on the on-board computer systems on planes to determine the proper time to jump, there has been no immediate available navigation tool once they are in freefall. This has all changed with the distribution of over 3,000 ParaNav GPS tracker units, a helmet-mounted system complete with an integrated head-up display.
Once paratroopers leave the plane, the ParaNav’s visual display provides accurate GPS location data on a continual basis, allowing troopers an enhanced level of situational awareness as well as the ability to divert to alternate sites at a moment’s notice, all while maintaining the same level of accuracy. ParaNav is the first production helmet-mounted navigation system in the GPS industry, designed specifically for paratrooper guidance. The system’s infrastructure includes a lightweight battery-operated GPS pod that attaches to the user’s helmet, an integrated full-color display that attaches to the trooper’s goggles or face shield, an 802.11 WiFi interface for Joint Precision Airdrop System data connectivity, and custom circuitry that allows for dead reckoning calculations in the rare event of GPS lock failure.
With the continued involvement of the United States in international military affairs, an ever-increasing emphasis is being placed on efficient and safe means of carrying out cover operations. The Marine paratroopers have a time-honored reputation as some of the bravest and most well-organized organizations in our nation’s line of defense, and with the help of our GPS network it appears that reputation is going to stand for many years to come.