Warplanes: Hermes 900 Hears All

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June 7, 2014: The Israeli Hermes 900 UAV got off to a rocky start but has become a crucial aerial recon aircraft since some were equipped for electronic reconnaissance. That means sending the UAV aloft equipped with electronic sensors, jammers, and radios in addition to the usual vidcams. Among the tools included on these UAVs are a radio direction finder that makes it possible to monitor the location of a transmission (all sorts of radios, including cell phones) even if it is coming from a moving vehicle. A wide spectrum of frequencies can be scanned while a few specific ones are being monitored. The EW (Electronic Warfare) version of the Hermes 900 has proved extremely useful and are being worked heavily.

Israeli aircraft manufacturer Elbit conducted the first flight test of the Hermes 900 in 2009 and it entered service in 2010. This UAV is similar in size (and appearance) to the American Predator (both weighing 1.1 tons), but the Israeli vehicle is built mainly for endurance. It has a 10 meter (31 foot) wingspan. The Hermes 900 can stay in the air for 36 hours and has a payload of 300 kg (650 pounds). This means that, with its cruising speed of 125 kilometers an hour, the Hermes 900 has a max range of 4,500 kilometers.

The Hermes 900 is basically a stretched and bulked up Hermes 450, which is a 450 kg (992 pound) aircraft, with a payload of 150 kg. It can also carry Hellfire missiles. The Hermes 450 is 6.5 meters (20 feet) long and has an 11.3 meter (35 foot) wingspan. It can stay in the air for up to 20 hours per sortie and fly as high as 6,500 meters (20,000 feet). The Hermes 450 is the primary heavy UAV for the Israeli armed forces and has been in service since the late 1990s.

In 2011 Chile became the first export customer for the Israeli Hermes 900 UAV. Chile is using Hermes 900s for reconnaissance along the coast. Chile has a 4,630 kilometer long coastline but the country is only 430 kilometers wide. In effect, Chile occupies the southern half of the South American Pacific coast. Patrolling that has always been a chore and usually just wasn't done much. The southernmost area, ending in the Drake Passage at the southern tip of South America, has very rough weather. So a Hermes 900 could patrol most of the Chilean coast in about 30 hours. 

 


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