is upgrading its Hermes 450 UAV with a new engine, that will increase endurance
from 20 to 30 hours. The two million dollar Hermes 450 has been in service for
five years, and over two dozen are in Israeli service. The older ones will
receive the new engine as well.
The Hermes 450 is a 992
pound aircraft. Some of the Israeli ones carry Hellfire missiles. This UAV is
already designed to carry two extra fuel tanks under its wings. Each of these
fuel tanks weighs more than the 110 pound Hellfire. Total payload for the 450
is about 330 pounds. It is 20 feet long, with a 35 foot wingspan. It fly as
high as 20,000 feet. The Hermes 450 is the primary UAV for the Israeli armed
forces, and they were heavily used (over twenty in action each day) during last
years war in Lebanon, for a total of some 14,000 hours in the air. The Hermes
450 can operate about 200 kilometers from its ground station. The Hermes 450
has been exported to several other nations, including the United States (where
the border patrol uses it).
Half ton UAVs are
something of a "sweet spot" in the UAV market. They are small, and
cheap, enough for a lot of non-military organizations (police, border and coast
guards), and powerful enough (thanks to ever cheaper, lighter and more powerful
sensors) to get the job done.