The guard has installed handsets and communications interfaces from Iridium to ensure reliable communications when flying into Antarctica. It flies 560 missions per year to provide personnel, food, and supplies for the National Science Foundation scientists involved in the U.S. Antarctic program.
"The aircraft operate in one of the world's most difficult and dangerous environments, with extremes of wind and cold, creating special communications challenges," said Major William Smith, deputy Antarctic operations chief of the New York Air National Guard. "The frequent solar flares cause magnetic disturbances in the ionosphere, severely degrading HF radio communications. This means Iridium is often the only reliable communication link, providing an important margin of safety for the aircraft when flying in this region."