Murphy's Law: Mystery Malaise Grounds UAV


May 12, 2011:  An Israeli Hermes 450 UAV, delivered to the Brazilian Federal Police over a month ago, for use in anti-drug operations, has sat on the ground all this time because of a lack of fuel. The Hermes 450 uses the same fuel as other police aircraft, but someone decided that the UAV required a separate fuel contract. The amount needed (12,000 liters/3,170 gallons), fuel suppliers considered too small to bid on, at least at the price the police wanted to pay. The Brazilian media got hold of this situation, and now the police are feeling the heat. There are accusations that a large drug gang may have bribed a police commander to keep the UAV grounded. The two Hermes 450s that have been in use by the military, have been quite effective in detecting illegal activities.

Earlier this year, after a year of leasing two Israeli Hermes 450 UAVs, Brazil has agreed to buy at least three more, in addition to the two they had on lease. The ultimate goal is fifteen of these UAVs. Brazil joins some 20 other nations using Hermes 450s, including Mexico (recently ordered) and the U.S. Border Patrol (since 2004, along the Mexican border).

The Hermes 450 has day/night vidcams for surveillance, and almost as important, a communications relay that enables troops in remote areas (Brazil is a big place) 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. Its 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 half ton (450 kg) Hermes 450 is half the weight of the Predator, but for many nations seeking to obtain (and failing because the U.S. military had priority on all new production) Predator, Hermes is adequate for their needs. Hermes 450 is cheaper than Predator, and it doesn't hurt that Predator was developed from Israeli UAV designs.





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