The Netherlands Defence Force has awarded a contract to Dutch Space for the delivery of 15 smart parafoil autonomous delivery systems (SPADES).

SPADES is a reusable autonomous parachute system dropped from an aircraft to deliver supplies of up to 1,000kg to any location in remote or dangerous areas in support of military and humanitarian missions.

By using a global positioning system (GPS) and an advanced guidance, navigation and control system, SPADES can accurately fly itself over large distances to the desired ground location.

The parachute system features a 50m average landing accuracy to improve logistics, and enhance the safety and flexibility of air-drop and ground-based operations.

SPADES was developed by Dutch Space in collaboration with the National Aerospace Laboratory NLR and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

Netherlands Defence Material Organization air commodore Madelein Spit said that they would start training special operations forces with the SPADES systems in 2010.

SPADES will be certified to new military airworthiness requirements and the certification process is expected to be complete by early 2010.