Already having developed several series of long-running unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for maritime operations, Elbit Systems Ltd. recently announced that they had delivered a highly autonomous UAS with better than 30 hours of continuous flight time to a customer in southeast Asia. The UAS, a Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol system, integrates detection and identification functions, onboard inflated life rafts, and precision dispatch capabilities. It is well suited for long-range maritime Search and Rescue (SaR) missions.
The Hermes 900 UAS uses a satellite communications (satcom) data link for beyond line-of-sight (LOS) operation, with an operator based onboard a ship or at a terrestrial control station. The aircraft has a 1180-kg take-off weight with 350-kg maximum payload and 30,000 ft. service ceiling. The multiple-mission, multiple-payload UAS is well suited for long-range intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) duties. It provides multiple sensor data and live video feeds to its remote controllers and can be operated as a stand-alone unit or as part of a network of remote ISTAR devices.
The Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol can carry as many as four six-person life rafts that are integrated on its wings (see the figure). It can safety dispatch life rafts from a low altitude of 600 ft.; the life rafts are gradually inflated upon release and upon landing on the water for survivors. The UAS is designed to handle adverse weather conditions and operate well at day or night. It is equipped with a host of onboard detection and guidance systems, including a maritime radar for long-range recognition and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) detection system for visual identification.
Elbit Systems, www.elbitsystems.com