The Israeli air force today announced that its new Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed and manufactured by Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) Hetz Hakesef subsidiary, had become fully operational. The new UAV is an improved version of the Hermes 450, which is already in use by the air force.
The air force used the Hermes 900 in Gaza in the final days of Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, even though it was still in the initial stages of being adopted by the IDF. The Hermes 900 has since undergone several adjustments to the air force's operational needs in preparation for its full integration in regular missions.
The IDF said today that the new UAV preserves the good features of the older Hermes 450, while being designed to bear a larger payload, fly up to 30 consecutive hours, and reach a maximum speed of 220 kilometers per hour. It is also larger than the Hermes 450: nine meters long, with a 16-meter wingspread.
The defense industries and the IDF are not disclosing the price paid by the air force for the new UAV, saying only that the price is several million dollars per unit. At the same time, a defense source said, "The UAV is only a platform, and the big money is not in the metal, but in the systems it is able to carry. A broad variety of payloads capable of operating simultaneously enables the new Hermes 900 to perform multiple tasks on a single mission."
Payloads that Elbit Systems has adapted to the Hermes 900 include the SkEye WAPS system unveiled two months ago shortly before the opening of the Paris Air Show. The system, which is carried underneath the UAV's belly, is capable of simultaneously photographing at high resolution a number of event theaters spread out over a large city.
Elbit Systems says that this system, together with the Hermes 900's ability to stay airborne for a long time, significantly improves the deployment of security forces for terrorist events around the world.
Although the IDF announced its operational use of the Hermes 900 only today, Elbit Systems has sold aircraft of this type to a number of its customers around the world, in addition to its sales of the Hermes 450. Elbit System is not disclosing the identity of the customers who purchased the advanced UAVs, but it was previously reported that Brazil is among the countries that procured it.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on August 23, 2017
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