$30M for Hermes 450 UAVs in Israel
Israel pioneered the military use of UAV systems with a drone called, appropriately enough, the Pioneer. It was adopted in the 1980s by the USA, and some of them are still flying. IAI’s Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) Heron UAV has become a signature export, winning in Turkey and adding to India’s fleet, and Israel’s, and forming the basis for a cooperative venture with EADS. Elbit Systems’ Hermes series of UAVs is catching up fast, however, with the smaller Hermes 450 tactical UAV seeing service with Israel and Britain (as the Watchkeeper MK450), bought by Singapore, and receiving civil certification in Israel.
Now Elbit Systems received a new $30 million order for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) for more Hermes 450s, known as Zik (“Spark”) in the IAF. Development and supply is scheduled to take place over more than 3 years. “Development” is mentioned because the order also includes “funds for the development, manufacture and supply of new and improved UAV systems, as well as the upgrade of existing UAV systems.” Among other projects, Elbit has developed a larger Hermes 900 version of its platform that can compete with the Heron and Predator; flight testing is scheduled to begin soon. Elbit Systems release.