Vietnam acquires search-and-rescue solution from Thales Alenia Space

Vietnam’s Vina Marine has inked a deal with Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), to provide search-and-rescue solutions.

Thales Alenia Space, together with VIETTEL and MKE, will provide Vina Marine with its MEOLUT Next ground station, which will operate as part of the COSPAS-SARSAT global MEOSAR search-and-rescue (SAR) network, the company disclosed.

The company said its MEOLUT Next solution, which employs a phased array antenna, will give Vietnam unrivalled performance.

The solution will make it possible to detect and locate distress signals from COSPAS-SARSAT beacons on land, in the air and at sea instantaneously over a radius of 2,500 km centered around Hai Phong, mainly using the Galileo satellite positioning system.

Where conventional MEOLUT systems rely on six large parabolic antennas each covering an area about the size of a football field and are therefore only capable of receiving signals from six satellites simultaneously (one per antenna), the MEOLUT Next solution, with its compact antennas taking up less than six square meters, tracks up to 30 satellites, significantly enhancing distress beacon detection and expanding coverage.

MEOLUT Next is thus capable of detecting and locating distress signals from more than 5,000 kilometers away, the company said.

COSPAS-SARSAT is an intergovernmental organization founded by Canada, the US, Russia and France. The solution is already operated by the main users of COSPAS-SARSAT (USA, Canada, France, the European Union, and Togo) and more recently by Thailand.

The company said the solution is helping to save lives, as recently demonstrated in the Indian Ocean.

On November 18, 2022, a MEOLUT Next antenna picked up a distress signal from the Asteria, a yacht skippered by Tapio Lehtinen competing in the Golden Globe race, 2,000 kilometers southwest of La Réunion, well outside the range of VHF radio and other communications systems.

The Asteria was sinking fast, and Tapio just had time to put on his survival suit and jump into his life raft before activating his COSPAR-SARSAT distress beacon. Within only four minutes, MEOLUT Next had pinpointed the boat’s location to guide rescue crews to the scene and save the skipper.