Elbit Systems has chosen Asian Aerospace for the first sight of the Hermes 180, the latest member of the Israeli company's family of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

After a year-long development programme through its Silver Arrow subsidiary, flight-testing of the 180 is due to start next month.

Positioned at the high end of tactical, close-range UAVs, its performance figures include a typical ceiling of 15,000ft (4,575m), endurance of more than 10h and an operating radius of more than 100km (55nm).

The composite-structure UAV is powered by a 38hp (28kW) UEL rotary engine and uses common components from other members of the Hermes family.

The new model would typically be operated at brigade level, providing surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities.

The new vehicle is the result of careful analysis of the market. "There's a lot of confusion in the army tactical area," says Haim Kellerman, vice- president, UAV Systems, at the show.


"There are a lot of contradictory requirements. Armies want a high-performance payload and long endurance, but they also want a small vehicle that can be launched from the field and be very mobile.

"We found that most armies want day/night performance and laser designators. The smallest possible weight of payload with those sensors was 30-35kg, so we designed the aircraft around that," says Kellerman. Alternative payloads, such as synthetic aperture radar, can easily be substituted, he adds.

Major design aims of the Hermes 180 were mobility and ruggedness, says Kellerman. An entire system Ð ground station, three or four UAVs and support equipment Ð fits in a Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules and the unit's team of "less than 10 men" can have the system assembled and ready "in a few hours".

"The key is to make it very simple. You don't have to be a pilot to operate it. You point the sensor at what you want to see and the aircraft automatically heads towards it. It will circle the area automatically at a distance set by the operator."

Source: Flight Daily News