Military eyes Helikites for surveillance and comms

Posted by Shane McGlaun

The Pentagon has long been interested in blimps for a wide range of missions including surveillance, reconissance and communications.

However, the massive blimps originally envisioned by the military are often less than practical and lack funding. So while big blimps such as the HALE-D may ultimately remained grounded, the military is considering the possibility of fielding blimp-like helikites.

Essentially, Helikites can best be described as a helium-filled blimp attached to a kite, ranging in size from 6-24 feet in length, depending on mission requirements. In contrast, traditional blimps can exceed up to 370-feet.

The 24-foot Helikite is capable of lifting up to 30,000 pounds of equipment and cruises as high 6000 feet to keep out of range of small arms fire. According to Wired,  a Helikite loitering at an altitude of 600-feet would be able to provide 113 square miles of Wi-Fi coverage for data links and communications.

The smaller vehicles also require less helium than larger blimps, which is obviously important, as the military is currently facing a helium shortage.