Elbit Systems said that its Hermes 900 Unmanned Aerial System has successfully completed a series of flight demonstrations for the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). According to the company, the demonstration run by the MCA was designed to test the drone's capability to enhance search and rescue missions, as well as carry out long-range operations in civilian airspace.
In the tests 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, in full coordination with the UK Civil Aviation Authority. The success of these trials is seen as a significant step forward in enhancing the capabilities of the MCA as it seeks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its search and rescue operations while reducing the risk to MCA personnel in the field. The company indicated that Elbit Systems UK is closely collaborating with the UK Civil Aviation Authority, supported by additional UK companies, including Inzpire and Aviation Systems Group.
Martin Fausset, CEO of Elbit Systems UK, commented: “We are pleased to have had the opportunity to showcase our enhanced search and rescue capabilities to the MCA this week. The Hermes 900 is perfectly equipped to deal with the needs of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and we are proud to be able to support them as they continue with their vital, life-saving work.”
To demonstrate the aircraft's capabilities, the Hermes 900 was deployed for a range of missions that simulated shoreline rescues, water rescues in dangerous airspace and long-range ship rescue operations outside of the country's airspace. The drone with a 15m wingspan was equipped with search and rescue-specific radar, an Automatic Identification System (AIS), EO/IR payload, an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and full satellite communications.
Elbit said the 1.2-ton Hermes 900 has been deployed by more than a dozen leading customers around the globe, providing search, rescue and reconnaissance capabilities. In May, the company introduced a maritime patrol configuration of the UAV with detection and identification systems as well as automatically-inflating life rafts that can save lives at sea. It was revealed that this configuration was delivered to an undisclosed customer in Southeast Asia.