Elbit Systems announced that it has flown a number of demonstration flights of its Hermes 900
UAV for an interested Philippine Air Force (PAF). Manila is in the market for new intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities for both patrolling its territorial waters and tackling an insurgency on the archipelago by jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State. Earlier this month, neighboring Singapore offered
to send UAVs and urban warfare assets to help the Philippine military tackle the insurgency, assets which contains fellow Israel firm IAI's Heron 1—which has a range of 200km and can stay in the air for 24 hours—and the Hermes 900's predecessor, the Hermes 450—which has half the range and a shorter flying time of 14 hours. The Hermes 900 meanwhile, boasts an endurance of 36 hours and a flight range of 1,850km.
Elbit Systems has enjoyed considerable domestic and export success with its Hermes 450, which sits at the smaller end of the MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) UAV spectrum. As UAVs proved themselves, Elbit wasn’t interested in ceding the market for larger and more capable MALE UAVs to the likes of IAI and General Atomics.
They invested company funds to create the larger Hermes 900, but those kinds of investments eventually need a buyer. In 2010, their home country of Israel stepped up, and became the anchor buyer for the “Kochav” (“Star”). They weren’t the last. A comparison with the popular Hermes 450 is instructive…