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Elbit evolves Hermes 900 to find new customers

The Starliner UAV is called the Hermes 900 HFE in Swiss service after its heavy fuel engine. (Federal Office for Defence Procurement (Armasuisse))

Elbit's flagship Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is still finding new customers as the company continues to develop it so as to compete with the larger General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, a senior executive told Janes.

Amir Bettesh, vice-president of marketing and business development at Elbit's UAS – Airborne Division, described the past 12 months as “perhaps the most successful we've ever had in terms of the number of platforms sold and the number of deals” for the Hermes 900, which entered service with the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in 2010.

He noted that Switzerland received its first two Hermes 900 Starliner variants in 2022, the Royal Thai Navy ordered the Hermes 900 military version in the same year, and Canada's Ministry of Transport ordered Starliners for maritime patrol missions in 2020. Elbit announced in March that it had received an order for the 120th Hermes 900 from a customer it did not identify. The UAV is currently competing for a Scandinavian contract, according to Bettesh.

He said around 20 foreign customers operate the Hermes 900, including some with multiple contracts. The air forces of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and the Philippines have confirmed they are operating the UAV, as has Azerbaijan's State Border Service. A Hermes 900 with Mexican Air Force markings has been photographed, while possible deliveries to Morocco and Uganda remain unconfirmed. Contractors also use Hermes 900s to support the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Mali and the European Maritime Safety Agency.

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