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The view from one of the balloons.
WATCH: A balloon's-eye view of the Tel Aviv pride parade
The same observation balloons that are flown over Gaza and Hebron also have civilian uses, particularly in monitoring large-scale events like the World Cup in Brazil.
The IDF's observation balloons may get a major upgrade soon, with new cameras and an improved navigation system from Israeli manufacturer RT, a subsidiary of the Yavne-based Aeronautics.

 

 

Just as they were during Operation Brother's Keeper in Hebron and during routine operations in Gaza and southern Lebanon, the observation balloons could be seen over Tel Aviv during the most recent gay pride parade, during the demonstrations by Ethiopian-Israelis, and during a large student event in Ramat Gan.

 

The pride parade from above.    (באדיבות איירנאוטיקס)

The pride parade from above.   (באדיבות איירנאוטיקס)

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The observation system, named "Skystar 180," is being used by police and the organizers of large-scale events in Israel, and was also sold to customers abroad, where, among other things, it assisted in maintaining order during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil last year.

 

Photo courtesy of Aeronautics
Photo courtesy of Aeronautics

 

The balloon can carry up to 20 kilograms and provide continuous intelligence on different events from a height of up to 300 meters. The balloon can be operated by a two-person team, works in various wind conditions, and can stay in the air for up to 72 straight hours.

 

An aerial view of the Tel Aviv pride parade. (Photo courtesy of Aeronautics)
An aerial view of the Tel Aviv pride parade. (Photo courtesy of Aeronautics)

 

The upgraded balloon has both a day and a night camera that allows detection of suspicious activities of people at a five-kilometer range, and of vehicles at a seven-kilometer range. The upgraded navigation system includes map-based location, along with advanced targeting abilities.

 

These can be used by the IDF and Israeli Police to identify terrorist operations from farther away than was previously possible, and take quick preventive action.


Photo courtesy of Aeronautics
Photo courtesy of Aeronautics

 

RT also has other tactical observation balloons, the smallest of which is the "Skystar 100."

 

Recently, RT registered a patent on a new type of winch for the balloon. The winch is lightweight, mobile, and can turn a full 360 degrees. It also has advanced fiber-optics protection technology. The new winch can warn operators about dangerously high tension in the cable, or a loss of tensile strength, which can help protect against cable failures. It does not depend on outside energy sources.

 

RT CEO Rami Shmueli elaborated, "The new winch contains sophisticated and sensitive cables, through which it upgrades the range of uses for smaller balloons."

 


פרסום ראשון: 08.15.15, 11:23
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