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“Elbit systems’ Hermes 450/900 unmanned air systems (UAS) have established a new benchmark in the market,” says Elad Aharonson, General Manager – Elbit Systems UAS Division in a special interview for iHLS.
Aharonson said that the division is expanding its operations in many countries. This in parallel to an effort to introduce more systems to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
The IDF has started to use the Elbit systems SkyRider block 10 mini unmanned air system (UAS). This is an upgraded version of the SkyLark, Aharonson revealed in a special interview.
Aharonson said the SkyRider block 10 has a more robust fuselage and a max. takeoff weight of 6 kg. “The system has the capability to create interfaces with many ground systems, but I cannot elaborate.” He added that the new version will be supplied to some foreign customers.
Aharonson revealed the company’s Hermes-450 UAS has also been upgraded with a more powerful, quieter Wankel engine.
The Hermes-450 is the basis for the British Army’s Watchkeeper system.
The Swiss have recently selected the Elbit Systems Hermes -900 as their future UAS.
Q: Can you tell us about this selection and the configuration of the UAS that will be supplied to the Swiss?
Aharonson said that the Hermes-900 that will be supplied to the Swiss will include some upgrades and will be powered by a heavy fuel engine. “This configuration is our new generation of this system and will be supplied to future clients.” He added that one feature that was important for the Swiss, is a high rate of climb because of the country’s mountainous terrain and the more powerful heavy fuel engine enabled it.
Q: Are you working on a medium size UAS?
Aharonson revealed that his division has performed an extensive upgrade of its Hermes-90 UAS that was in the background for some time. “This is a 100-150 kg system that is launched by a pneumatic catapult and lands using a system that catches the system before it touches the ground.”
Aharonson added that his division is expecting a contract for the sale of the Hermes-90.
Q: Many companies are developing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned systems. Are you also developing one?
“We are evaluating it and I can only say that we think about a bigger platform than those who fly today.”
Q: Can you describe your operation in recent years?
The last couple of years were especially successful for Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900, reported noteworthy achievements with a record number of new customers. The entire Hermes (450 / 900) UAS production rate was one per week, with dozens of platforms sold to customers in Israel, Europe and Latin America.
Aharonson revealed that the Hermes 900 is being operated by the Brazilian Air Force in combined missions with the Hermes 450 fleet, already in operational use.
Aharonson said that the Hermes UAS continue to play a major operational role worldwide. “We are constantly enhancing our systems and developing innovative capabilities to enable our customers to cope with modern operational challenges.”