Tuesday, December 15, 2009

First Flight of the Elbit Systems Hermes 900 UAV

The Hermes 900 on its maiden flight, December 9, 2009. The large payload bay is clearly visible, providing direct access to larger payloads, and rapid reconfiguration of the aircraft to different mission requirements. Photo: Elbit Systems.

The Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft made the first flight from an airfield in the western Negev desert on December 9, 2009. The developer, Elbit Systems plans to conduct more test flights soon, commencing with serial production of the UAV. Current users of Hermes 450 type, including the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have expressed interest in the new capability. Unlike other Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV systems, such as the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper and Heron I, the Hermes 900 can be operated as part of existing, tactical UAV units currently operating the smaller Hermes 450 and Hermes 90. Such capability can dramatically extend mission endurance, payload capacity and operational capabilities of operational units, without fielding additional infrastructure and support.

Weighing 1.1 tons on takeoff, Hermes 900 is more than twice heavier than the current Hermes 450. It has a wing span of 15 meter and fuselage length of 8.3 meters. The aircraft is powered by a single Rotax 914 engine certified engine, modified forunmanned high altitude operation. The larger platform is based on the successful track record of the Hermes 450 system that has accumulated over 170,000 flight hours. The new Hermes 900 offers additional capabilities. It can operate on missions up to 36 hours, at altitude up to 30,000 ft, carry payloads up to 300kg capacity). Furthermore, the modular design allows fast payload replacement and flight capabilitiesin adverse weather conditions. The vehicle is designed for maximum speed of 120 knots, its typical loiter speed is 60 knots.

The Hermes 900 on seen on its maiden flight, December 9, 2009. On the left photo the large payload bay is clearly visible in thebelly. Also visible are the retracting landing rear, The satellite antenna is located in the bulge above the nose section. The aircraft is powered by a Rotax 914 engine, providing reduced acoustic signature, compared to current UAVs. Photo: Elbit Systems.

The Hermes 900 uses built-in satellite communication channel providing beyond-line-of-sight link to the universal command & control ground station (UGCS), enabling the aircraft to operate at long distances and descend to lower altitude even inmountainous terrain. The autonomous system is also supported with advanced mission management, automatic taxiing, autonomous flight and automatic takeoff and landing systems common to all the UAVs and in the Hermes family.
The Hermes 900 also includes innovative avionics and electronic systems and a new fully certified engine, as well as systems required for flight in a combined civil and unmanned aviation area. The new UAV offers additional cutting edge technologies and applications such as electro-optic systems, laser designators and electronic intelligence sensors (ELINT, COMINT).


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