Switzerland Eyeing Israeli UAVs

Israel's Elbit Systems and IAI are competing against one another to win a contract to build UAVs for Geneva.

Gabe Kahn ,

Israel news photo: Flash 90

Swiss officials are expected to select a new UAV for its army before the end of the year.

The two front contenders are Elbit's Hermes 900 UAV and the Heron-1 UAV by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel Defense reports.

Both are large UAVs capable of carrying payloads for day-and-night photography, laser marking, electronic warfare systems, and more.

The IAI-produced Heron UAV - called the "Shoval" by the IAF - is categorized as MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance), and is designated for prolonged high altitude missions.

It’s has a wingspan of 16 meters and it can carry a payload of up to 250 kg. It is capable of operating multiple payloads simultaneously, such as electro-optic sensors, Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR), naval radars, SIGINT collection equipment, and advanced communication systems.

The Hermes 900 UAV by Elbit Systems has a wingspan of 15 meters and has a maximum payload weight of 300 kg.

It allows for flight at an altitude of more than 9,000 meters, has a large cargo capacity, and is capable of flying in harsh weather conditions.

Demonstration flights for both UAVs are slated to take place in Switzerland later this year. The winner is expected to replace the Ranger UAV, produced by the Swiss-based RUAG in cooperation with IAI.

The selection of one of the UAVs is expected to take place prior to 2014 with acquisitions to occur over a period of years. Both Elbit and IAI are expected to submit detailed proposals to the Swiss government by August.