Meet the Israel Air Force Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900, a.k.a. Kochav (Star), a medium size multi-payload Medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for tactical missions, the IAF announced.
The Star has an endurance of more than 30 hours and can fly at a maximum altitude of 30,000 feet, with a primary mission of reconnaissance, surveillance and communications relay. With a wingspan of 49 ft, weighing 2,140 lbs, it offers a payload capability of 300 kg (660 lbs). Payload options include electro-optical/infrared sensors, synthetic aperture radar/ground-moving target indication, communications and electronic intelligence, electronic warfare, and hyperspectral sensors.
Despite its similarity to the older, Hermes 450, the IAF announcement stressed that it required a complete, model-specific absorption process, since it comes with several improvements in the hull, communication systems, modes of operation and maintenance methods.
The new project’s absorption process began during the 2014 Gaza War, when a single unit from the new production line was quickly readied to carry out a battle-condition mission on July 15, 2014. Following that successful run, the Stars returned to their ordinary process of absorption, while the Hermes 450 continued to run in day-to-day missions.
Elbit has been very successful in selling the Hermes 900 abroad: it has been awarded a contract to supply a Hermes 900 unmanned air system to the Brazilian air force; three Hermes 900 are operated by the Chilean Air Force, and the Chilean Navy is evaluating it for maritime patrol tasks; in July 2013, the Colombian Air Force confirmed they have one Hermes 900 on order; in January 2012, Elbit announced it had been awarded a $50 million contract to supply two Hermes 900 systems to an undisclosed customer “in the Americas,” who was later revealed to be the Mexican Federal Police; and in June 2014 Switzerland’s procurement agency selected the Hermes 900 to replace the RUAG Ranger UAV currently in service with the Swiss armed forces, with six Hermes 900 replacing Switzerland’s 15 RUAG Rangers by 2019.