Tactical Tailor

HEL-STAR 5 from Core Survival

The requirement for the HEL-STAR came from tragedy. In 1998, a USAF PJ was killed in a parachute accident over the ocean off of Japan. His parachute was caught in a strobe light zip tied to his pro-tec helmet. This accident caused the joint parachuting community to begin the search for a more conformal light specifically for freefall parachuting. Over the ensuing years, several solutions were used until they started working with Core Survival and adopted the original HEL-STAR 4.

The HEL-STAR 5 is a flexible lighting solution designed to be velcroed to a parachutist helmet offering a smooth, low profile mount. One of the big enhancements over the HEL-STAR 4 is at the junction between the control module and the light strip. It was strengthened in order to alleviate concerns over cable wear due to repeated flexion. Additionally, the controls were altered slightly to enhance tactile verification of operating mode.

Three distinct operating modes are provided with a choice of White, Green or IR signals, either flashing or steady. The light is bright enough for jumpers to identify one another in freefall or under canopy. The O-ring sealed design is waterproof to at least 16 feet and the unit is powered by a single CR123 battery.

Below is a short video of the HEL-STAR 5 blinking in strobe mode between white and green lights (mode 1).

The HEL-STAR 5 boasts three operating modes:

HS-501 M-1: White/Green (Alt. Flash)
M-2: Green (Steady)
M-3: IR (Flash)

Naturally, once the troops got a hold of the marker they came up with additional applications for it including vehicles, outer wear, and equipment. Based on user feedback, additional capability is being developed for this family of lights. Core Survival products are Made in USA.



5 Responses to “HEL-STAR 5 from Core Survival”

  1. Joe says:

    what is the point of this, as it seems to be much more bulky then the V-Lite.

  2. Jumper says:

    Joe, are you a parachutist?

  3. Coolhand77 says:

    Dude, I want one for my motorcycle helmet!

  4. Joe says:


    Not unless you count jumping off of my 7′ front porch or jumping/falling off of a trucks running board while racing up a steep hill or falling 20′ off of a playground climbing web when I was 9.

    The V-lite is about the size of the LED segment and doesn’t have the altoids tin size battery pack, though the battery in this is user replaceable.

  5. Poncho says:

    What most people are unaware of, is that the FAA requires that parachutists jumping at night display a white strobe that can be seen for 3 miles. While that might not be important to many, it’s how we train and subsequently fight. As cool as the V- lite is, I am not certain that it meets those criteria. Given that the “old school” strobe light can often times be hard to see while under canopy in certain situations, one that is less visible to others isn’t going to be a better option just because of its form factor(V-Lite). Having all 3 versions of the Hel-Star and having used them while under canopy, I can say they are an improvement over the “old School” strobe light. They aren’t cheap by any means but they do work and they are a lot less likely to be a snag hazard and if they do become snagged, they will come off easier than the old school strobe. The white light version is easy to see with the naked eye while under canopy and the IR version shows up very well while wearing NVGs. For this application (airborne ops), this is a good choice over others available. The V-lite is fine in other circumstances where you need a light source for marking. Use the right tool for the job is what it boils down to. Subsequently, S &S makes another signaling device, the Manta, which is a strobe that would be a better comparison to the Hel-star and for signaling at longer distances.