Paris Air Show

Hermes 90 targets U.S. forces

 - June 17, 2009, 9:13 AM

Hermes 90, the latest member of Elbit’s UAV family, is on show here at Paris for the first time. Its appearance comes shortly after the creation of a joint venture between the Israeli company and General Dynamics to promote the sale of unmanned air systems into the U.S., which Elbit now considers a “home” market. Based at Fort Mill, South Carolina, UAS Dynamics LLC marks the return of the General Dynamics name to the world of military aviation.

One of the first targets of the new joint venture is the Small Tactical UAS/Tier II requirement for U.S. forces, principally the Marine Corps. Several companies are chasing this opportunity, including Raytheon with its KillerBee and Northrop Grumman with the Bat, both using a similar vehicle designed originally by Swift Engineering.

The Hermes 90 is to be demonstrated to the Marine Corps in early July as part of STUAS evaluations being overseen by the U.S. Navy’s PMA-263 office. The Hermes 90’s ability to be ramp- or runway-launched, and to land on either skids or wheels, enables it to operate from short runways, in the field or at sea. It is also available with either gasoline or heavy fuel engines.

Described by Elbit as a Midi UAV, Hermes 90 has an 187-pound max takeoff weight, of which 55 pounds can be sensor payload. It can be operated by a crew of two, who can turn it around between missions in about 15 minutes. Endurance is over 18 hours at an altitude of 15,000 feet.

Elbit’s Hermes UAVs have now notched more than 170,000 operational flight hours. The company is currently operating Hermes 450s under a lease arrangement with the UK to cover ISR requirements in Afghanistan (Project Lydian). Meanwhile, the company is preparing to fly, by the year-end, its larger Hermes 900, shown in mockup form at Paris two years ago.