Warplanes: July 13, 2004

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Several Israeli UAVs are finding work on the civilian side. Amsterdam Police are giving the IAI/Malat Birdeye 500 mini-UAV a workout in their city, evaluating the vehicle for use in railroad track monitoring, vehicle tracking, crowd control and waterway monitoring. Other European customers are looking at the aircraft for agricultural, firefighting, and various civilian security applications. Amsterdam will likely be the first customer for the system. 

The 11 pound, electrically-powered, Bird Eye 500 has a wingspan of about 6.5 feet, length of 5 feet and carries a daylight color video camera weighing around 1.5 pounds. It is designed to patrol a 10 kilometer by 10 kilometer area and has a flight endurance of around an hour. An IR (Infrared)  sensor for night surveillance is expected to be available by the end of the summer. The system has a price tag of around $100,000, depending on configuration, with pricing including a ground station and several aircraft. Missions are planned on a laptop using digital map references. 

Meanwhile, two Elbit Systems Hermes 450 UAVs have started operations along the Arizona/Mexico border for the U.S. Boarder Patrol, to back up an additional 200 agents and four helicopters added to existing 1,800 agents and eleven helicopters in the region. The two UAVs will be equipped with day/night sensors for surveillance, and a communications relay payload to link up agents deployed over mountainous terrain. With an endurance of 20 hours, maximum mission radius of 200 kilometers, and operational ceiling of 20,000 feet, the Hermes 450 carries a payload of up to 330 pounds, has a wingspan of 34.5 feet and length of 20 feet. A squadron of around 16 to 20 Hermes 450s are in daily operation as the main tactical UAV of the Israel Defense Force. Several Hermes 450s are also being operated at Fallon, Nevada by the Department of Defense's Joint UAV Test and Evaluation office as a surrogate platform for future UAV concepts. Doug Mohney

 


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