The Hermes 450
The Hermes 450Israel news photo: Flash 90

The IDF has signed a contract with the Haifa-based Elbit Systems for Hermes UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). The army will spend $50 million over the next three years for UAVs, including the Hermes 450 and the Hermes 900.

The Hermes 450 has a 10-meter wingspan and can remain in flight for up to 20 hours, reaching heights of up to 18,000 feet. It can be used for both surveillance and attack. Unarmed versions of the craft are in use internationally, including the United States, Mexico, Singapore and Britain.

The Hermes 900 is an upgrade on the Hermes 450. It can fly higher and longer, and can carry a larger payload of up to 300 kilograms (726 pounds). It is also capable of flying in any kind of weather, and has an auto-landing system and built-in emergency procedures.

The three-year contract also includes improvements to the IDF's current UAV fleet.

UAVs are used for a variety of purposes, and the IDF uses them for surveillance near the Gaza perimeter. UAVs also have saved the lives of soldiers by allowing the army to see terrorists planting bombs and to detonate the explosives before they can do harm.