September 10, 2010:
Mexico has bought at least two Israeli Hermes 450 UAVs and over a dozen Skylark micro-UAVs. Mexico is using its new UAVs for anti-drug operations. Mexico ordered these aircraft two years ago, and kept it quiet.
The U.S. Border Patrol has been using two Hermes 450s along the Mexican border since 2004. The Hermes 450 has day/night vidcams for surveillance, and almost as important, a communications relay that enables border patrol personnel in remote, mountainous terrain, to stay in touch with each other. Hermes 450 can stay in the air for 20 hours at a time and go as far as 200 kilometers from its base. It's max ceiling is 6,500 meters/20,000 feet and carries a max payload of 150 kg/330 pounds, has a wingspan of 11.1 meters/34.5 feet and length of 6.5 meters/20 feet. The Hermes 450 is the main tactical UAV of the Israel Defense Force.
The Skylark, like most micro-UAVs, is a small, battery powered, plastic aircraft. It can stay up for 90 minutes per flight and can operate up to ten kilometers from the base station (radio gear and a laptop computer). The UAV can be equipped with night vision video equipment, or a color day camera. The Israelis pioneered the development of UAVs that worked (the U.S. spent a lot more money on UAVs, never quite getting it right, before buying Israeli systems and getting on the right track.) Skylark is used by the Israeli army and has a good track record.