Elbit Touts Hermes/ Skylark UAV Sale in South America
Elbit Systems Ltd. recently announced [PDF] a contract to supply Hermes 450 UAV systems to “a country in the Americas” for the total of approximately $25 million. The Hermes 450 is currently in service with Israel, Britain (as the Watchkeeper), Singapore, and other countries – but it has become most famous for its service with Georgia’s armed forces in the face of Russia’s invasion. The contract also includes Skylark I hand launched mini-UAV systems, and all UAVs are to be delivered within a year.
Haim Kellerman, General Manager of Elbit Systems UAS Division said: “We are proud to report another link in the chain of successes, with a new order from a new customer…” DID saw most likely customers for this sale as Ecuador and Chile, but new information places Mexico as the customer, with 2 complete Hermes 450 systems and up to 12 Skylark UAVs. Flight International | Homeland Security Newswire.
DID Addendum: Sept 2008
(Left in place as a reminder that all analysis is ultimately conjecture).
Ecuador appears to be the most likely candidate. The Jerusalem Post reported in June 2008 that Ecuador had agreed to buy up to 6 Israeli UAV systems as border patrol assets, and see also the UAV Latino America write-up [Espanol] in early August. In addition, figures discussed at that time are close to the figures in Elbit’s release. Ecuador has bought arms from Israel before, and its Fuerza Aerea Equatoriana flies modernized Israeli Kfir C10s as its front-line fighters.
DID considers Chile to be the next most likely candidate. That country was known to be in the market for exactly this type of high-low UAV solution set, and already buys a number of Israeli weapons and sub-systems.
Colombia is also a possibility, as another country with obvious UAV surveillance needs who has bought Israeli arms and sub-systems. It has not demonstrated the same public intentions to buy UAV systems, however, which placed it lower on the probability scale. Brazil has obvious and significant surveillance needs, but that country is focused on indigenous aerospace industrial development, and has its own native VANT program. Brazil’s federal police do operate some Heron UAVs, however, manufactured by Elbit’s Israeli rival IAI.