The ultimate in cold-weather comms

Barrett Communications Pty Ltd
Tuesday, 26 November, 2013

Every year a combined training mission between the Chilean and Argentinean armies is conducted over the north-eastern section of the Antarctic Peninsula. In September 2011, a group of six participants from the Chilean base, O’Higgins, and five from the Argentinean base, Esperanza, faced 100 km/h winds and temperatures of -24°C in a 280 km ‘rescue’ of two scientists who had fallen into a crevasse.

As part of the training mission, the Barrett exclusive dealer in Chile, Skytel Telecomunicaciones, was asked to provide equipment on a trial basis. Skytel supplied the Barrett 2050 HF transceiver set up as a base station at O’Higgins Base and a second Barrett 2050 was mounted onto a snowmobile with a Barrett 2019 automatic tuning mobile HF antenna.

“The training mission is part of the Antarctic Treaty, and this exercise prepares the Chilean and Argentinean military ready to act in the case of a real accident and when the weather prevents an air rescue,“ said Jose San Martin, managing director of Skytel Telecomunicaciones. “We understand the equipment performed well during the mission and further discussions have progressed since the mission.”

Between the months of November and May each year the military personnel of the O’Higgins base support 16 scientific projects. In September 2005, three military personnel died when their snowmobile fell into a crevasse 17 km east of the O’Higgins base. A senior member of the 2011 expedition team explained, “On the Antarctic, it is difficult to predict the weather and in minutes the conditions change suddenly, for example, when the blizzards start you can only advance with the assistance of a GPS because the white wind creates a complete whiteout. Our lead snowmobiles have special radar to alert us of the presence of crevasses covered by snow and we have satellite images to further support these missions.”

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