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Hermes 900 bid for Canadian unmanned air vehicle programme

Elbit Systems has confirmed it is bidding for the current Canadian Department of National Defence's joint airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability (JAIC) unmanned air vehicle requirement with its Hermes 900 in a teaming arrangement with Thales and L-3 Communications MAS (Canada).

Elbit unveiled the teaming arrangement with L-3 MAS earlier this month at the UVS Canada conference at St Johns, Newfoundland. Thales and Elbit have a standing long-term strategic relationship based on the British Army Watchkeeper programme.

The Canadian army operates the Elbit Skylark mini UAV as its interim close-range system to support operations in Afghanistan. Hermes 900 was unveiled midway through this year with the type scheduled to make its debut flight in the first quarter of 2008. The 900 is powered by a 115hp (86kW) Rotax 914 engine and has an expected endurance of 40h.

L3 MAS president Sylvain Bedard says that the bid is based on manufacture of the UAV in Canada: "It will be built and maintained in Canada, and supported by Canadian engineers, programme managers and technicians," if selected by the Canadian defence department.

In 2006 Canada acquired the Elbit systems Skylark mini-UAV for operational use in Afghanistan.

Canada is planning to make a source selection on JAIC by mid-2009.

General Atomics is competing with its Predator B system in a teaming arrangement with General Dynamics Canada. Israel Aerospace Industries is also competing, offering a derivative of its Heron system in a teaming arrangement with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates.

Meanwhile, the Israeli air force has awarded Elbit a $30 million contract for the supply of additional improved Hermes 450 UAVs and to upgrade existing Hermes 450S aircraft.

Haim Kellerman, corporate vice-president and general manager of the Elbit Systems UAV division says that the "accumulated operational experience and feedback we receive from the air force are important elements in the success of the Hermes 450 around the globe.

The Hermes 450 unique features constitute a solid basis for the entire Hermes UAV family. I have no doubt that the Hermes 900 that will undergo flight tests in the coming months will enjoy similar success."

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