Le Bourget, Paris: Elbit Systems has unveiled a large mock-up of the Hermes 900, a development of the original Hermes 450 design. Elbit says that the new, larger, UAV is a tactical MALE UAV system, that will be available for a relatively lower cost than comparable systems.
The Hermes 900 has a maximum take-off weight of 970kg and can carry a 300kg internal payload. The aircraft has a 15m wingspan, and a flight ceiling of 33,000ft. Officials say that the maximum endurance with a minimal payload is 40 hours. According to defence analysts, the system could easily be weaponised. According to Eli Yitzhaki, VP, business development and marketing, the new UAV fills a market requirement for a relatively low-cost MALE system.
The UAV is currently configured to carry synthetic aperture radar and a turret-mounted electro-optic/infra-red sensor. The flight test programme for the system is scheduled to end in April 2008, with first flight tests occurring in November of this year.
Comparable with other MALE UAVs, such as the General Atomics-built Predator system, the commonality with the Hermes 450 means that it could easily be operated instead of, or in conjunction with, the smaller system. Eli Yitzhaki says that the ground control system for both the UAVs is exactly the same.