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An Elbit Systems HERMES 900 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has successfully completed a series of flight demonstrations for the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to test the capabilities of using a UAV to enhance Search and Rescue (SAR) capabilities in addition to the use of long-range unmanned capabilities in civilian airspace. Taking place off the West Coast of Wales over the first two weeks of September, the HERMES 900 was able to fly advanced Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) missions into unsegregated and uncontrolled airspace.

According to the company, the success of these trials is a significant step forward in enhancing the capabilities of the MCA as it seeks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its SAR operations while reducing the risk to MCA personnel in the field. Elbit Systems UK is closely collaborating with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) while being supported by additional UK companies, including Inzpire and Aviation Systems Group.

Maritime Dimension

The HERMES 900 was equipped with a SAR specific radar, an Automatic Identification System (AIS), EO/IR payload, an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and full satellite communications. It was deployed on a range of missions that simulated shore-line rescues, water rescues in dangerous air space and long-distance ship rescues which crossed international air space lines.

With a wingspan of 15m, the 1.2 ton, HERMES 900 is already deployed with more than a dozen advanced customers around the globe providing SAR and reconnaissance capabilities. The Company offers extended life-saving capabilities with its recently launched HERMES 900 maritime patrol configuration with inflated life-rafts for detection, identification and saving the lives of survivors at sea. It was revealed that this configuration was delivered to an undisclosed customer in South-East Asia.

Arie Egozi