December 17, 2009: Israeli aircraft manufacturer Elbit recently conducted the first flight test of its new Hermes 900 UAV. This vehicle is similar in size (and appearance) to the American Predator (both weighing about a ton), but the Israeli vehicle is built mainly for endurance. The Hermes can stay in the air for 36 hours, and has a payload of 650 pounds (300kg). This means that, with its cruising speed of 125 kilometers an hour, the Hermes 900 has a max range of 4,500 kilometers. Thus the Hermes 900 could fly to Iran (1,500 kilometers distant), do some reconnaissance, and return. Although the 900 has a quiet engine, it is fairly visible, even at its highest altitude (nearly 10,000 meters/30,000 feet). So a trip to Iran and back is unlikely, even if it is quite possible.
The Hermes 900 is basically a stretched and bulked up Hermes 450. This is a 992 pound aircraft, which can be equipped to carry Hellfire missiles. The Hermes 450 was originally designed to carry two extra fuel tanks under its wings. Each of these fuel tanks weighs more than the 110 pound Hellfire. The Hermes 450 is 20 feet long 450 has a 35 foot wingspan. It can stay in the air for up to 20 hours per sortie, and fly as high as 20,000 feet. The Hermes 450 is the primary UAV for the Israeli armed forces, and twenty or more were in action each day during the 2006 war in Lebanon.