The MaxDefense website said that it received confirmation from military and industry sources that the Philippine Air Force has received full delivery of nine Hermes 900 and four Hermes 450 medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Israeli defense company Elbit Systems Ltd.
The contract is worth approximately $175 million and contain three Hermes 900 and one Hermes 450 unmanned aerial system (UAS), with each system comprised of three UAVs, a ground control system and support equipment, plus a spare used Hermes 450 UAV included by Elbit Systems as part of the deal, for a total of 13 UAVs.
According to MaxDefense sources, the last batch of Hermes 900 UAVs arrived in the Philippines in August although Elbit Systems' contract with the Department of National Defense is not yet complete as Elbit will need to complete all other requirements including establishment of ground facilities, training, logistics support and spares.
Once operational, the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 UAS can be utilized for various surveillance missions, including tracking down terrorists in jungle and urban areas; battlefield surveillance and real time surveillance; and maritime surveillance in the West Philippine Sea, northern borders with Taiwan, Japan and the Bashi Channel, southern triborder with Indonesia and Malaysia, and the Philippine Rise, and other missions like search and rescue. Aside from surveillance, the PAF's Hermes 900 fleet can also be deployed for maritime search and rescue. This could be useful in assisting ships in distress on the high seas, or even within Philippine territorial and archipelagic waters, allowing faster response in saving lives.
The UAVs will be operated by the PAF's 303rd Aerial Reconnaissance Group of the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing. The 303rd ARG divided the deployment of these new UAVs to different bases around the country, and training is being conducted at the Philippine Army Aviation Regiment's base in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. The locations of the bases where the UAVs will be deployed are confidential, although it should be noted that sightings of the both Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 were confirmed in several locations in the Philippines.
Full operationalization of one Hermes 900 UAS and one Hermes 450 UAS is expected by mid-2021, while the two other Hermes 900 UAS with 3 UAVs each will probably reach partial operationalization by the 2nd quarter of 2021.