Elbit has chosen the Paris Air Show to unveil its latest unmanned air vehicle design–the Hermes 900. Pitched as a tactical medium-altitude long-endurance vehicle, the yet-to-fly Hermes 900 fits neatly in size between the company’s Hermes 450 and the larger twin-engine Hermes 1500.
Development of the 900 was conducted in close cooperation with Hermes 450 customers, who showed a clear desire to have a larger vehicle that could fly higher and for longer and carry bigger payloads. The 450 has already racked up 65,000 flight hours and has proven to be a reliable and capable platform.
However, in acquiring a larger UAV, potential customers do not want to be paying for the cost of a new infrastructure set, which typically consumes around 70 percent of the cost. Therefore in developing the 900, Elbit retained the entire Hermes 450 infrastructure, including its command and control systems. The new vehicle can even be broken down to fit the same overall dimensions as its smaller sibling and can be operated by the same small team. Like the 450, it has fully automatic takeoff and landing, using a differential system, and is the only UAV in its class that can operate from a completely unsupported runway.
Under the power of its Rotax 914 engine, the Hermes 900 can carry a 300-kilogram (660-pound) payload to 33,000 feet and has a maximum endurance of 40 hours. It can carry a wide variety of sensors, although the configuration on display here would be a typical fit. It comprises a SAR/GMTI radar under the belly and Elop’s new DCompass 15-inch turret under the nose.
DCompass includes zoomable FLIR and TV and a laser designator. The turret has a highly accurate inertial measuring unit mounted on the gimbal to provide an extremely precise target positioning function. The central belly of the vehicle can be removed for the installation of other sensors in place of the SAR/GMTI radar.
The first air vehicle is slated for a first flight in October or November, although that might be delayed to December, simply because of the pressures of other UAV programs.