The Swiss air force has selected the Elbit Hermes 900 to replace its earlier-generation IAI Ranger UAVs. IAI also competed for the UAS 15 contract, which is worth about $280 million. The selection is subject to further government and parliamentary approvals.
The Swiss conducted flight trials of the Hermes 900 and the IAI Heron 1 from Emmen airbase in the fall of 2012. However, the service eventually selected a heavy-fuel engine (HFE, such as a diesel) version of the Hermes 900 rather than the IAI Super Heron. The Swiss MoD promised more details on how it will operate the new UAS when it submits the Fiscal Year 2015 budget to Parliament.
Beginning in 2001, 28 Rangers were modified and supplied by Ruag Aviation and designated ADS 95 in Swiss service. They are reaching “the end of their life cycle,” according to the Swiss Air Force. According to Ruag, the ADS 95 Ranger was the first UAS to be approved for flight over populated areas. The company designed a catapult launcher and skid landing system for the Israeli UAV, as well as a laser-based automatic landing system. Elbit has offered airframe and other subcontract work to Swiss industry, in connection with the UAS 15 contract.