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Israeli Spy Drones Going After Mexican Drug Cartels

Elbit's Hermes 900 taking off.

Elbit's Hermes 900 taking off.
Photo Credit: Elbit Systems screen shot

In January, The Marker reported that Israel-based, international defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd. had won a contract worth $50 million to supply the unmanned drone Hermes 900 to an unknown state on the American continent. Now Aviation Weekly reveals it must be the Mexican government.

The Hermes 900 drone is based on the operational experience gained from the Hermes 450, which is in use by the IDF in its operations. The Hermes 900 has a wide range of advanced capabilities, including longer flying time, flying at an altitude of up to 30 thousand feet, and the ability to carry large cargo. The craft’s unique configuration allows it to carry a variety of payloads of different sizes and shapes, and to switch between them as quickly as needed.

The Elbit website lists some of the Hermes 900′s capabilities as follows:

Take-off weight ……….1,180 kg Max Payload……………350 kg Endurance………………36 hours Service Ceiling…………30,000 ft Range……………………..Unlimited

And now Aviation Week is reporting that the Israeli spy drone is probably going to be purchased by the Mexican government, to use in spying on the drug cartels.

AW’s Paul McLeary writes that a friend in Mexico pointed to a curious entry on the Mexican Treasury Ministry’s special projects web page, posted on Dec. 20, 2011, stating the “acquisition of unmanned aircraft, ground segment and additional payloads for the Federal Police” for 744 million pesos, which is equivalent to about $50 million U.S. dollars.

McLeary also cites a Mexican Treasury document that details the “acquisition of two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles 900, ground command-and-control system and additional payload.”

Wired Magazine suggests, based on the AW scoop, that “chances are that the Hermes 900 is headed for the skies above Juarez.”

The Mexicann government has deployed drones against the cartels before, but McLeary insists the Hermes 900 represents a “huge upgrade.” He says Mexico’s military uses at least two Israeli Hermes 450 drones and they have more than a dozen smaller, hand-launched “micro-UAVs.”

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