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Swiss Air Force receives first two Hermes 900 UAVs

The Swiss Air Force is flying operational testing sorties on two of its planned six Elbit Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft. (Armasuisse)

The Swiss Air Force has received the first two of six Elbit Systems Hermes 900 Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that were ordered under the Reconnaissance Drone System 15 (ADS 15) requirement.

The Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection, and Sport (VBS) announced the milestone on 30 January, approximately nine months after Israel delivered the aircraft to the Swiss Federal Office for Armaments (Armasuisse) for in-country flight trials.

β€œThe military aviation authority has issued the necessary certification. This means that the air force can now start building up the operational capabilities for the ADS 15 reconnaissance drone system,” the VBS said.

Elbit Systems was awarded a contract worth approximately USD200 million by the Swiss government for the procurement of its Hermes 900 UAV in November 2015. The initial ADS 15 requirement contract placed by the VBS covered six Hermes 900 UAVs, and with the first two aircraft (serial D-11 and D-14) now with the air force, D-16 is currently undergoing Swiss-based flight trials with Armasuisse ahead of its delivery β€œby mid-2023”, according to the VBS. The remaining three aircraft are scheduled to be handed over by the end of 2023, while Switzerland retains a wider requirementfor 15 such vehicles to be used for border surveillance and disaster relief.

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