June 18, 2014:
Switzerland has decided to buy the Israeli Hermes 900 UAV to replace the current Ruag Ranger UAV (which is actually the Israeli Scout UAV built in locally). Switzerland is buying fifteen Hermes 900 systems for $19 million each. A system consists of three UAVs, ground control and maintenance gear. By the end of the decade the Hermes 900s will have replaced all the Ranger UAVs.
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 and a max ceiling of 9,100 meters (30,000 feet). That last bit is important, given all the mountains in Switzerland.
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.
The Raug Ranger is a 285 kg (628 pound) aircraft with a range (from the control station) of 180 kilometers and nine hours endurance. Top speed is 240 kilometers an hour and payload is 45 kg (99 pounds) and can only operate up to 5,600 meters (18,000 feet).