Singapore Airshow 2024: Elbit unveils new Hermes 650 tactical UAV

by Akhil Kadidal

According to Elbit Systems, the Hermes 650's front-engine configuration is designed to support several capabilities such as short take-off, increased endurance, and the ability to support a diverse payload. (Elbit Systems/Janes)

Elbit Systems unveiled its new front-engine Hermes 650 Spark tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on 21 February at Singapore Airshow 2024.

Speaking to Janes, vice-president and head of Business Development and Marketing at Elbit Systems, Ziv Avni described the Hermes 650 as being in the one-tonne category of UAVs and fitting in between the company's Skylark family of miniature UAVs and the Hermes 900 medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE).

According to Avni, the UAV is currently in flight-testing, with Elbit Systems already under contract to produce an unspecified number of UAVs for an undisclosed customer country.

With an operating speed of between 55 and 120 kt, the Hermes 650 has been designed for versatility in operating speeds and fuel efficiency, Avni said. “Its wide [operating] envelope [allows the UAV to use its] high speed to get to the mission area but then go into slower speeds to be very efficient in loitering,” Avni added, explaining that the UAV has an endurance of at least 24 hours.

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India issues tender for 97 additional Tejas Mk 1As

by Akhil Kadidal

The first production Tejas Mk 1A, from the IAF's initial order of 83 aircraft (placed in 2021), prepares for take-off from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited airport in Bangalore on 28 March 2023. (HAL)

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued a tender to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the procurement of 97 additional Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk 1A fighter aircraft.

The potential acquisition has an initial proposed value of INR650 billion (USD7.7 billion), an industry source told Janes on 12 April. The possible acquisition of the 97 aircraft is in addition to the 73 Mk 1As and 10 trainers ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2021.

The source added that the tender document for the 97 Mk 1As was issued in March 2024.

The document, which is akin to a request for quote (RFQ), will be assessed by HAL, the source said. Janes understands that HAL has three months to respond to the document. The source added that the “value of the proposed acquisition could change”.

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China tests HH-100 cargo UAV

by Akhil Kadidal

AVIC's new HH-100 cargo-delivery unmanned aerial vehicle is being designed for a maximum take-off weight of 2 tons. (AVIC/Janes)

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is preparing its HH-100 large cargo unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for flight-testing.

The UAV, which has a planned maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 2 tons, completed its high-speed automatic taxiing test at Yangchang airport in southwest China's Sichuan Province on 3 April and is being readied for its maiden flight, AVIC announced on 7 April. The programme is part of China's decade-long focus on developing unmanned logistics and cargo-transport capabilities, Janes assesses.

State-owned media said that the HH-100 prototype was fully assembled in December 2023, before being transferred to Yangchang. Taxiing tests began at the end of February 2024. The state-owned newspaper, Global Times , published a video on 7 April showing the UAV undergoing its high-speed ground trials. The UAV “demonstrated stable performance during the test”, the newspaper said.

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New Zealand plans P-8A deployment to enforce North Korea sanctions

by Akhil Kadidal

The planned deployment of an RNZAF Boeing P-8A Poseidon to Japan in mid-April 2024 to participate in the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, is the sixth such RNZAF deployment since 2018. (New Zealand Defence Force)

New Zealand has said that it will deploy a Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to Japan for the first time in support of UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions on North Korea and assist with the monitoring and surveillance of illegal ship-to-ship transfers by Pyongyang.

The deployment will see the P-8A conduct maritime surveillance and reconnaissance patrols “over international waters looking for violations of the sanctions resolutions, including illicit ship-to-ship transfers of banned goods such as oil and coal”, said Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour, commander of the Joint Forces New Zealand, on 10 April.

According to the Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-8A will operate from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa from mid-April to early May.

The deployment comprises several “firsts” for the RNZAF's P-8As, according to the Air Component Commander, Air Commodore Andy Scott.

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Elbit Systems unveiled its new front-engine Hermes 650 Spark tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ...

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