The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is currently in the process of significantly expanding its fleet of Elbit Systems Hermes 900, according to Major Gilad (full name withheld), deputy commander and chief instructor of the UAV training school.
“This process is occurring right now,” Maj Gilad told Jane’s . “The IAF is multiplying the numbers of these UAVs by hundreds of percent. As a school, we have to prepare to train operators at a very early phase.
“I can say that in light of the changing military challenges that we are dealing with, we need this advanced platform to be able to provide an answer. We are active wherever is necessary, for a wide range of missions,” he added.
The Hermes 900 is a medium-altitude long-endurance UAV that can remain airborne for up to 36 h while carrying various payloads that can be fitted on under-wing hardpoints as well as in fuselage bays.
Called the Kochav (‘Star’ in Hebrew) by the IAF, the Hermes 900 flew its first operational mission in July 2014 during the two-month conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and officially entered service a few months later.
The IAF has never revealed how many Hermes 900s it has in service, but has described it as a “technological breakthrough that provides the air force with new capabilities and lets it operate in distant horizons”.
Maj Gilad, who has operated both the Hermes 900 and smaller Hermes 450 UAVs for many years, said the UAV school is adapting to train larger numbers of cadets to operate the growing number of platforms. The training also has to reflect the upgrades that the Hermes 900 aircraft are receiving.
“Without going into the details, platforms always receive upgrades, including this one,” Gilad said. “The training now includes learning how to use the adapted technology.”
Source: IHS Jane’s 360