Hermes 900 is a tactical medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) system principally designed to allow the Israeli Defence Force to perform intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations. It is primarily used to capture real-time imagery of the battlefield and transmit it to a universal ground control station (UGCS). It is derived from the Hermes 450 UAV.
The Hermes 900 UAV is designed and manufactured by Elbit Systems. The maiden flight was undertaken on 14 December 2009. The UAV has completed more than 25 test flights since the initial flight.
Hermes 900 advanced UAV system
The advanced UAV system offers fully automated take-off and landing even under adverse weather conditions. Flying at an altitude of 33,000ft, Hermes 900 provides operators with real-time information on battlefields by performing surveillance and target acquisition over a large area.
In May 2010, Elbit Systems was awarded a $50m contract by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) to build and supply the second Hermes 900 prototype by 2013. The contract also includes supplying additional Hermes 450 and improving the intelligence capability of UAVs that are already in service.
In January 2011, Elbit Systems announced plans to conduct maiden flight of the second prototype within the months followed.
A Latin American country awarded a contract to Elbit Systems in June 2011 to supply Hermes 900 UASs. It is the first Hermes 900 export order for Elbit Systems. The contract will also include ground control stations, DcoMPASS payload systems and radar systems.
Hermes UAV variants
Hermes 1500, Hermes 450 and Hermes 180 are three variants of the Hermes 900 UAV. The Hermes 1500 variant is manufactured by Elbit Systems. The variant is a highly reliable twin-engine UAV equipped with a range of payloads.
Hermes 1500 differs from Hermes 900 in maximum take-off weight, endurance and payload weight. The maximum take-off and payload weight of the Hermes 1500 UAV are 1,750kg and 400kg respectively. Development of the Hermes 1500 was halted after problems with exports caused by the missile technology control regime that restricts the sale of some missiles and unmanned aircraft.
The Hermes 450 UAV is the Israeli Defence Force’s primary UAV. The design and features of the 450 variant are the same as those of the Hermes 900 UAV. Hermes 450 has completed more than 65,000 flight hours. The variant was selected as the baseline for the UK Watchkeeper.
The Hermes 450B is an all-weather, ruggedised structure UAV. It is an advanced version of the Hermes 450 UAV.
The Hermes 180 UAV is the third variant. It is a small range UAV used for ISTAR missions. The Hermes 180 variant differs from the Hermes 900 in take-off and payload weights, endurance, maximum speed and engine. The variant is powered by a 38hp rotary UEL engine.
The maximum take-off and payload weights of the Hermes 180 are 195kg and 32kg respectively, while the maximum speed and endurance are 105k and 10h.
Hermes UAV system design
The Hermes 900 UAV has been designed to provide maximum endurance while increasing flight economy and reducing fuel consumption during flight transition phases. Integral satellite communication terminal operations beyond the line of sight can be carried out by the nose fitted to the aircraft.
The Hermes 900 UAV is configured for multiple operations, even under adverse weather conditions. It uses multiple sensors and satellite communication (SATCOM) for extended-range data capture and transfer. Its features include state-of-the-art avionics, retractable landing gear and internal automatic take-off and landing systems (IATOL).
The UAV also features composite structures, high mobility and built-in growth potential. It is also equipped with modern avionics such as an air traffic control (ATC) radio, radio relay and an identification friend or foe (IFF) transponder.
The Hermes 900 UAV can be controlled manually from the ground control station or through autonomous mode. It is fully equipped with automatic launch and recovery (ALR) system, which helps in automatic safe landing during communication failure with the GCS.
The Hermes 900 UAV has electro optical (EO) and infra-red (IR) sensors, thermal surveillance equipment and laser designator and electronic intelligence sensors (ELINT, COMINT).
The EO sensor converts light rays into electronic signals for capturing images, real-time data and videos. The laser designator is used in Hermes 900 UAV for targeting enemy battlefields.
Thermal surveillance equipment is used to capture high-resolution images at night, even in clouds, rain, smoke, fog and smog.
The Hermes 900 UAV is equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR), a ground moving target indicator (GMTI), electronic warfare (EW), signal intelligence (SIGINT) and communication intelligence (COMINT).
The Hermes 900 UAV is powered by a single Rotax 914 turbo aircraft engine. It was manufactured by Austria’s leading aircraft engine supplier, BRP-Rotax. It can produce 74.6kW of output power.
The Hermes 900 UAV can fly at a maximum altitude of 33,000ft. The maximum and cruise speeds of the aircraft are 222km/h and 103km/h respectively. The maximum endurance of the UAV is 40h. The maximum take-off weight is 970kg.
Universal ground control station
Processing, retrieving and storing real-time data provided by the Hermes 900 UAV are undertaken by the UGCS. The UGCS, manufactured by Elbit Systems, can control two UAVs at a time.
A single operator can control the air vehicle and its payload. The air vehicle and UGCS can communicate through secure, redundant line-of-sight data-link or beyond line-of-sight satellite communications, enabling state-of-art mission managing, automated taxiing, independent flight and automatic take-off and landing systems common to all Hermes UAVS. The UGCS system includes a ground data terminal, a remote video terminal and a flight line tester / loader.
Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology is used for converting sensor data such as live and stored images, imagery and spatial information including EO, SAR, moving target indicator (MTI) maps, SIGINT and electronic support measures (ESM) into actionable intelligence.
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