Aviation Week: IDF used Hermes 450 UAV in Lebanon

Elbit Systems has supplied the Hermes 450 to the British Army for its Watchkeeper program; the companys share in the contract is worth over $500 million

Aviation Week reports in its latest issue that the IDF deployed armed Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), built by Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT), during the Lebanon war. Aviation Week says Israel Air Force 200 squadron, based at Palmachim, operated the UAVs. The Hermes 450 is also used in observation and intelligence missions.

Elbit Systems is supplying the Hermes 450 to the British Army for its Watchkeeper program; the companys share in the contract is worth over $500 million. The company declined to comment on the report.

There were reports in the foreign press that the IDF operated armed UAVs during the war. The impression was that these were Heron UAVs built by Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI). One report claimed that a Heron attacked a vehicle on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Aviation Week says that unmanned flights included a classified capability was fielded, apparently for the first time. Armed UAVs were employed by the IAF throughout the war, but without any great visibility. But toward the end of the conflict, a few missiles were fired from UAVs during the daytime, and they were spotted by ground observers.

Aviation Week quotes Israeli aerospace industry officials as saying that the decision had not been made to arm the UAVs for political reasons, but the weekly goes to quote an Israeli official that an "already-developed [UAV] capability," was adapted to fire missiles in this latest conflict.

Aviation Week writes, Several officials in Israel say the armed UAVs are not IAIs Heron, which just became operational in July, nor the longer-serving Searcher II. The only other operational UAV deemed big enough to carry an effective weapons payload is Elbit's Hermes 450.

Elbit Systems subsidiary Silver Arrow LP produces the Hermes 450 at its factory in Ness Ziona. The Hermes 450 is a tactical UAV, which became operational in the late 1990s It has a flight capacity of 20 hours, weighs 450 kg, and can carry a payload of up to 150 kg. It carries day and night optical systems, and has accumulated 40,000 flying hours.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on August 30, 2006

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2006

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