Helikite Aerostat Videos
Helikites are one of the most popular aerostat designs in the world and are widely used by the scientific community, military, photographers, geographers, police, and first responders. Helikites are used by telecoms companies to lift 4G and 5G base stations for areas without cell phone coverage.
How does it work?
Helikite aerostats combine a helium balloon and a kite to form a single, aerodynamically sound, stable, tethered aircraft that has many uses in military surveillance, environmental research, and communications.
The patented Helikite design exploits both wind and helium for its lift. Helikites are considered the most stable, energy and cost-efficient aerostats available. This gives Helikites various advantages over traditional aerostats.
Traditional aerostats need to utilize relatively low-lift helium gas to combat high winds. This means they require a lot of gas to cope and are therefore very large, unwieldy, and costly.
Helikites exploit wind lift, therefore they only need to be a fraction of the size of traditional aerostats in order to operate in high winds. They can fly many times higher altitude than traditional aerostats of the same size. Being smaller, and with fewer construction seams, means Helikites have minimal problems with gas leakage compared to traditional aerostats, meaning that Helikites use far less helium.
Helikites do not need ballonets and so are simpler in construction than traditional aerostats. Nor do they require any electrical power to keep them airborne.
Why use Helikites to lift payloads?
Helikites are extremely stable and are excellent aerial platforms for cameras or scientific instruments. Small Helikites will fly in all weathers, so these sizes are popular as they are very reliable but still easy to handle and do not require large expensive winches. Helikites can be small enough to fit fully inflated in a car, but they can also be made large if heavy payloads are required to be flown to high altitudes.
Helikites range in size from 1 metre (gas volume 0.13m3) with a pure helium lift of 30g, up to 14 metres (gas volume 250m3) able to lift 117 kg. Small Helikites can fly up to altitudes of 1,000 ft, and medium-sized Helikites up to altitudes of 13,000 ft, while large Helikites can achieve over 7,000 ft.
Below are some videos of the thousands of Helikites being used around the world.
Below are some videos of the thousands of Helikites being used around the world.
Helikite Aerostats for Scientific Research
Helikites have been used around the world by leading environmental research organisations for decades. Research projects can range from simple tests to elaborate testing that last many years. Allsopp Helikites has supplied Helikites for NASA, Max Planck Institute, and dozens of esteemed universities.
Helikite Aerostats for Communications
High coverage airborne communications
Quick deployment, stable platform, proven excellence
Cheap to operate
Easily configurable to suit situation – suitable for large scale or small scale events
Communication transceiver is located above tree lines and hills
Coverage to remote areas, no need for expensive relay towers
Increase in bandwidth
Communication transceivers can easily be changed from 4G, 5G, LTE, MANET, Internet, Intranet and Extranet capabilities
Coaxial cables, fibre optic can be connected to the transceiver
Anyone can set up a rapidly deployable communications network by using a combination of a Helikite aerostat fitted with communications transceivers. Helikite aerostats are persistent, all-weather, miniature aerostats used and proven by governments and communication specialists worldwide.
What is a Helikite?
The Helikite is a type of hybrid kite-balloon. It comprises a combination of a helium balloon and kite to form a single, aerodynamically sound, unmanned, tethered aircraft that exploits helium for its lift and harnesses wind for stability and lift.
Helikites are made up of a semi-rigid, helium-filled balloon and a rigid carbon-fibre spine. The balloon is shaped aerodynamically and generally oblate-spheroid in shape in shape, although this is not essential. Solid spars provide attachment points for payload equipment such as 4G communications or video cameras.
What Are Helikites Used For?
Thousands of Helikites have been operated worldwide, over both land and sea.
They are used for aerial photography antennas, radio-relay, advertising, agricultural bird-control, position marking, and meteorology. The military also use Helikites as jungle marker balloons, for lifting radio-relays, and raising surveillance equipment. Helikites are the only compact aerostat capable of reliably operating at sea. For this reason, small, rapid-response surveillance Helikites are part of the emergency oil-spill response system of Scandinavia for operations in the arctic ocean.
Operators include: US Navy, US Air Force, US Marines, US Navy Seals, British Army, Royal Marines, Australian Defence Force, Lockheed Martin, DSTL, QinetiQ, CENETIX, Thales, British Antarctic Survey, Norway Oil-spill Response, Sandia National Laboratories, Frauenhofer Institute, CSIR, NIWA.
Helikite Aerostats for Surveillance
Helikites are commonly used for special event and perimeter observation. Payloads include communications as well as day/night cameras with long range capabilities.
Helikites are quickly and easily transported even to remote areas around the world. The rapid deployment of Helikites makes them the ideal solution for surveillance in large and dangerous areas where environmental conditions may not be favourable. Helikites excel in harsh and windy conditions. Inner balloons on Desert Star Helikites can be changed in minutes after being shot at and are easily repaired.
British Army Surveillance
Helikite Aerostats for Military Defence
Helikite are tethered aerostats that can be equipped with multi-mission sensors to provide long endurance intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and communications in support of coalition forces. They are also used for communication relays to and from unmanned vehicles. Helikites have been used around the world extensively by UK and USA Military forces for well over 20 years.
Digital Opportunities and Challenges
Military digital communications using high frequency radio waves are becoming more and more important; the advantages for troops of ready access to digitally transmitted data such as visual charts, GPS locations, text messaging and video images are apparent.
Sensors relying on digital comms can protect fleets from missile attacks, clear minefields, and track submarines. Significantly, digitalisation now also allows radio traffic to differentiate between numerous unmanned vehicles, giving a vast new unmanned force to those who learn to how to exploit this potential.
However, a problem emerges when high frequency radio waves wish to be exploited.
The user discovers that digital radio waves travel in straight lines, whereas the Earth is curved and has hills and mountains on the land which stop radio waves travelling between radio handsets. This inevitably results in loss of signal because perfect radio line-of-sight is required. Additionally, high frequency digital radio waves are attenuated to a greater extent than low frequency waves by factors such as low-lying vegetation, buildings, waves, salt spray and precipitation. The movement of small boats into wave troughs and irregular movements of antennas are found to reduce the theoretical radio range considerably. In practice, a broadband high-frequency radio signal that could theoretically travel 30 NM may in fact only be received reliably 10 NM away.
The answer to this problem entails the mastery of two aspects of digital radio propagation:
1. The manufacture of excellent digital radio relays.
2. The positioning of them at high altitude.
Numerous excellent digital radio-relays now exist in the form of MANET radios and small cell-phone base stations.
The problem that remains is the positioning of these relays at useful altitude, when required, in the right place, easily and cheaply – in all weathers. This is a huge problem, and one that militaries worldwide have spent billions of dollars trying to overcome, mainly by use of satellites. However, satellites are relatively low bandwidth, inflexible, prone to attenuation by vegetation and incapable of ever realising the bandwidth requirements of swarms of unmanned vehicles.
The solution to this high-altitude positioning problem is fundamental to the progress of high bandwidth military radio communications. If not grasped, then digital communications and the military operations relying on it will forever remain a) relatively low-bandwidth satellite based, or b) short-range and vulnerable mast based.
Militaries unable to put radio-relays into the air will be unable to compete with those that can do so. Evidently, airborne platforms are the second essential pillar of military communications.
The World’s Best Military Airborne Communications Platform
High-altitude, all-weather Helikite aerostats are the world’s most reliable and economical method of lifting mass into the sky ever devised.
All other methods are approximately 200 times more expensive. Tough, double-lined Desert Star Helikites are very well suited to military life and have been extensively used in conflicts areas worldwide including Afghanistan, Middle East, Africa, and South America – both at sea and on land.
Helikites lifting MANET radios or 4G relays create an extensive area in which there is full broadband radio communications for personnel, ships, sensors, and unmanned vehicles, limited only by the numbers of Helikites and radios available.
Helikites have proven time and time again that they can provide a simple, reliable way of greatly increasing military radio-range and bandwidth at very little cost. No extra ships, masts, vehicles, aircraft or inter-service co-operation is required. Helikites are significant force multipliers that can immediately increase reduce exposure to risk for personnel so reducing casualties.
In Ukraine, Helikites easily overcome the world’s most sophisticated jamming by lifting radio-relays high into the sky where Russian ground-based jammers are largely ineffective.
Ultimately, the Helikite’s greatest virtue is its ability to allow network-centric soldiers far removed from the battlefield to directly help their colleagues at sea via the remote operation of unmanned vehicles, mines, munitions, and sensors.
Helikites plus MANET radios and 4G allow a vast, previously untapped, worldwide network of thousands of human and computer resources to be concentrated into the centre of the battlefield in an instant. This is force-multiplication on an industrial scale.
Helikite Aerostats in Flight
Helikites can be supplied with a variety of launching systems: from very basic and low-cost units to industrial size and high-speed, custom launching winches.