Israel’s Elbit showcases its dual military-civilian Hermes 900 UAV

Another highlight from this year's Paris Air Show was Israeli Elbit Systems' "first-ever" military and civilian MALE drone, the Elbit Hermes 900 "Starliner."
Christopher McFadden
Image of the "Starliner" in flight.

Elbit Systems 

Israeli defense giant Elbit Systems showcased its Hermes 900 "Starliner" drone at this year's Paris Air Show. A specially designed large medium-range long endurance (MALE) drone, the Hermes 900 is Elbit's civilian offering of its highly successful uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The drone is a first-of-its-kind

Nicknamed "Starliner," it is the “first-ever dual military and civilian certifications for a UAS and can also perform ground support and maritime patrol missions for naval customers and civilian government agencies,” explains Elbit. The Starliner can fly over populated areas, which military planes generally avoid, and military drones do not usually fly in. The flexibility means that Elbit’s large drone has “double application for military and civilian, like firefighting, natural disaster, nuclear disasters, refugees and a lot [of other possibilities] in the maritime arena,” says Amir Bettesh, vice-president of marketing and business development at Elbit’s UAS business unit in the Aerospace division.

According to Bettesh, the Hermes 900 is the largest UAV they've produced. Elbit says it has sold more than 120 Hermes 900s abroad and has become what Bettesh called “the standard and the most efficient UAV of the MALE category.” However, he acknowledged it could be “difficult and challenging” to compete with another high-profile drone in the MALE category—namely, the much larger General Atomic’s MQ-9 Reaper. “But we have success with our unique features and the cost–efficient characteristics,” Bettesh told Breaking Defense.

The "Starliner" model is designed to operate in civilian airspace and has been promoted as a versatile option for various purposes, including homeland defense, law enforcement, and firefighting assistance. “We invested more than six years in receiving this certification from the Israeli civil airspace authority,” Bettesh explained.

To fulfill NATO's Stanag-4671 airworthiness standards, UAVs must be designed with these parameters in mind, which entails flight testing and safety board approval. Bettesh emphasized the importance of meeting these requirements from the outset of the design process.

“Switzerland was the first to buy Hermes 900 Starliner; after that, they also issue a military type certificate, so we have double certification for military arms forces,” he noted. Integrating UAVs into non-segregated airspace has been an issue of discussion for years. Canada also uses Starliner drones for “environmental protection,” Elbit says.

The drone can be used for search and rescue

The missions that involve flying over large maritime areas for more than a day are typically the "dull, dirty, and dangerous" missions that drones have always been suited for. However, the "Starliner" drone can also be equipped with life rafts to help rescue pilots and sonobuoys to detect underwater threats when needed for a specific mission.

“We did not deploy the sonar buoys, but we are taking advantage of the recent sonar buoy category from THALES that they are much smaller; we can equip [the UAVs] with more buoys for better operational effect with one platform,” says Bettesh.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board