SkySentry’s TEA (pronounced T – Uh) family of aerostats starts with the patented Helikite hybrid aerostat, which derives helium lift from an enclosed helium volume and aerodynamic lift from a kite attached to the bottom of the balloon. Resultant no-wind net lift in “pounds” approximately equals the helium volume measured in cubic meters. The TEA can lift much more with a steady wind. Certain aspects of the Helikite were developed under a multi-million dollar USAF Small Business Innovative Research contract. Recent models have been thoroughly assessed by the US Army Rapid Equipping Force, both through design evaluation and flight trials and subsequently deployed to support US Forces in Afghanistan.
The TEA aerostat is designed for very stable flight, usually at altitudes of about 500 to 1,000 feet above ground, but of course, can go much higher with proper sizing of volume and payload. The internal polyurethane gas retention envelope is surrounded by a very tough ULTRA nylon covering to enhance survivability in the most difficult environments, and the kite beneath the balloon provides lift and stability proportional to the wind speed.
- High reliability, in winds up to 50 knots, dust, and other difficult operating conditions due to very tough covering fabric. A moored TEA can survive wind events up to about 70 knots. Heavy rain does decrease lift performance.
- Permeability of the helium typically necessitates top-off about every 5 days.
- Elevating a payload with a TEA enables a line-of-sight radius of about 38 miles line-of-sight to horizon from 500 feet.
- Usually set up, launched and recovered by a two operators
- Field repairable for most problems
- Typical missions for a TEA include tactical surveillance and communications support, used by:
- Military units
- First responders to fires, floods, storms, natural and manmade disasters