Brazil has begun using its Elbit Systems Hermes 450 unmanned air vehicles to perform surveillance duties along its border with Bolivia. Two of the Brazilian air force's new UAVs were trialled in the monitoring task during the recent Operation "Agata 6".
The first two Hermes systems are being operated by the air force's "Horus" squadron from Santa Maria air base, Rio Grande do Sul. Founded in 2011, the unit has now flown more than 600h with its Hermes 450s, locally designated as RQ-450s.
In preparation for hosting the football World Cup in 2014 and Olympic Games in 2016, Brazil's defence ministry has dispatched 7,500 troops to the country's northwest borders with Peru and Bolivia in an effort to stop cross-border criminal operations.
Elbit's Brazilian subsidiary Aeroeletronica was awarded a $48 million contract in January 2011 to supply Hermes 450 systems. The air force is evaluating the purchase of more UAVs following the recent operation along its border.
With a 450kg (990lb) maximum take-off weight, the Hermes 450 tactical UAV can supply real-time intelligence data to ground forces. With a wingspan of 10.5m (34ft), the aircraft has a maximum flight endurance of more than 20h.