Wars expedite the process of bringing weapon systems to full operational status.
During the first week of operation “Protective Edge” in Gaza, Elbit Systems’s Hermes 900 unmanned air system (UAS) took off on its first operational mission. Until that point the UAS had only gone out on test flights.
According to the original plans, the type was to be integrated into Israeli air force (IAF) operational activities in 2015.
In light of Protective Edge the need for this advanced UAS became more urgent, and the integration into the UAS squadron was thus expedited.
The missions assigned to the medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) UAS are similar to those of the Hermes 450, but the new type brings with it a carrying capacity double that of its predecessor. This allows the UAS to carry a much larger load during flights and offers longer endurance
Additionally, the UAS is capable of executing its missions from a much higher altitude. “The Hermes 900 has been designated for missions it is able to execute better than the Hermes 450. Also, it’s always better to have another UAS in the air if possible,” explains Capt Grisha, a combat operator in the squadron who, until a few weeks ago, served as an integration officer for the Hermes 900.
According to the IAF, the 900 is being used just for unique missions as part of the current operation. The moment the operation ends, the soldiers of the squadron plan to take a “step back” and return to a more normal, organised integration process.
“There are other milestones that have not taken place yet and are important to the integration process – for example aerial training, learning about its ability to function in emergency situations, a better understanding of the capabilities in terms of the weather, high-altitude flights and others,” the officer said.
The Hermes 900 has a wingspan of 15m (49ft), is 8.3m in length and has a maximum take-off weight of 1,180kg (2,600lb). The type’s maximum payload weight is 350kg.