A new UAV design on display here is Elbit’s Hermes 900, the bigger cousin of the popular Hermes 450. The family genes make the Hermes 900 particularly attractive to operators of the Hermes 450–a roster that includes Singapore–as it employs the same ground control stations and maintenance processes.
The Hermes 450 has amassed more than 190,000 flight hours on operations and is used by many nations. It has been operated with great success over Afghanistan by UK forces. The Hermes 900 is an altogether larger vehicle that capitalizes on experience with the 450 while offering better performance and far greater payload-carrying ability. In terms of size and weight it is in the class of the IAI Heron and General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, and all three use the Rotax 914 engine.
Elbit proposes a range of sensors for the Hermes 900, which can be carried under the fuselage and in an internal bay. Long-range standoff sensors include SAR/GMTI and maritime patrol radar options, Elint systems such as the Emerald AES-210V, Skyfix and Skyjam communications intelligence and jamming equipment, and the AMPS (advanced multi-payload system), which can mount long-range EO/IR/laser equipment.
Alternatively, for routine ISR missions the DCoMPASS (digital compact multi-purpose advanced stabilized system), LASSO (large area scanning system operation) and hyperspectral payloads are offered. The mockup on outside static display is shown with some of the payload options available, along with a representative model showing the size of the 900’s internal bay.
Elbit has already secured three orders for the Hermes 900, including one from the Israel Defense Force as part of a larger, three-year deal signed in 2010 that also included the supply of further Hermes 450s. The IDF is a major user of the Hermes 450 and has acquired a number of 900s for an initial evaluation. A first export customer was announced last July, the Chilean air force having selected the Hermes 900 after evaluation against the IAI Heron.
In early January the company announced a contract worth around $50 million for the Hermes 900, including universal ground control station, satellite communications and DCoMPASS payloads. This third customer is, according to Elbit, “a governmental agency in the Americas” who will use the Hermes for “a variety of perimeter security missions.” Colombia’s police has been touted as the customer.