The deal that Elbit finalized over the last few days, including the sale of drones to a country in Asia that is very friendly to Israel, is actually for the replacement of the country's third drone squadron. The competitive process began about a decade ago when the country that has three drone squadrons decided to replace the third.
In the past, the three squadrons were only made up of Searcher drones. One squadron was later upgraded to Heron drones produced by Israel Aerospace Industries. The second squadron was upgraded to Hermes 450 drones produced by Elbit. And as mentioned above, about a decade ago, the process of replacing that country's third squadron was started. It is now known that Elbit won the competition and that it will upgrade the squadron to the Hermes 900.
There were two Israeli companies in the competition – Elbit and IAI. Another company that can compete for drone deals at this level is US-based General Atomics. However, the country in Asia does not acquire American drones due to a government decision, so only Israeli companies remained.
How many drones are in this kind of squadron? Well, it is estimated that there are about 12 Hermes 900 drones, including their command and control systems. The estimated cost of about $300 million is likely to also include maintenance for a number of years.
It should be mentioned that Switzerland acquired six Hermes 900 aircraft for a price of about $256 million. However, in Switzerland it was for a project for the conversion of the Hermes 900 into a civilian version, and thus some of the conversion costs were added to the deal. In general, it can be said that the cost of a Hermes 900 drone ranges from $18-30 million, depending on its configuration.