Elbit targets 2009 flight debut for Hermes 900

Tel Aviv
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Elbit Systems is accelerating efforts to enable the delayed first flight of its Hermes 900 unmanned air vehicle before the end of this year. Potential customers are expected to evaluate the design soon after the milestone event.

Unveiled in mid-2007, the Hermes 900 is Elbit's largest UAV, with a 15m (49.2ft) wingspan and a maximum take-off weight of 970kg (2,140lb), including a 300kg payload. The platform had originally been expected to fly before the end of the same year, but Elbit says its development schedule was extended to incorporate "advanced operational capabilities to offer a very mature system compared to similar systems on the market".

Already being offered to the Canadian army under a 2007 teaming agreement between Elbit, L-3 Communications MAS and Thales, the Hermes 900 has a projected mission endurance of up to 40h. It will be powered by a 115hp (86kW) Rotax 914 engine.

Mission equipment includes a secure, line-of-sight datalink and beyond line-of-sight satellite communications. An automatic take-off and landing system is also included. Elbit says up to two of the air vehicles can be controlled at the same time using its universal ground control station.

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