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Elbit Hermes 450

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)


The Elbit Hermes 450 is utilized in the communications, reconnaissance and surveillance roles though at least one Israeli form is thought to be armed.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Elbit Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).  Entry last updated on 3/18/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Hermes 450 is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) of Israeli origination, part of the growing family of Hermes "Unmanned Aircraft Systems" (UAS) including the Hermes 90 up to the Hermes 1500. She falls under the Elbit Systems branding and is designed for tactical long endurance sorties. The Hermes 450 is primarily utilized as a reconnaissance, communications and surveillance platform by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) but an armed version is thought to exist operationally. Several nations with growing interest in showcasing UAVs have either evaluated, leased or purchased the Hermes 450 system, those including the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore and Brazil.

The Hermes 450 is operated by the accompanying Hermes Universal Ground Control System (UGCS) which allows the flight crew full control over all integrated Hermes 450 systems. As such, the crew can interpret all incoming imagery and data in real-time and react accordingly, often times in conjunction with other ground elements. The Hermes has become a proven and highly versatile defense package that can be modified to suit the mission need. It features a gimbaled electro-optical payload that can accept reconnaissance and surveillance equipment as needed. Elbit states that their Hermes 450 has accumulated some 65,000 hours of flight in its short history, already having seen active service in several combat environments.

Structurally, the Hermes 450 follows in line with other contemporary UAV designs (it shares an outward similarity to the American Predator series). The fuselage is long and tubular in shape, containing the required guidance system, payload suites and internal guidance controls. The undercarriage consists of bow-legged structure mounted amidships holding single-wheeled main landing gear legs while the steerable nose landing gear (single-wheeled) is held well ahead in the design, just aft of the nose cone. The undercarriage is completed static and does not retract when in flight. The available optics suite can be seen protruding from its blister housing along the fuselage centerline ahead of the wings. The wing assembly sits atop a short support structure and is straight in design (featuring little in the way of sweep) with cranked wing tips. The wings sit just aft of amidships. The empennage is made up of a "vee-shaped" slanted wing structure, these fins doubling as both the rudder and stabilizer. The Hermes 450 wingspan is listed at 34 feet, 5 inches while her length is 20 feet. Gross weight is in the vicinity of 1,000lb.

Power is supplied from a single, compact UEL R802/902(W) series Wankel four-stroke cycle rotary engine delivering 52 horsepower to a two-bladed propeller. Wankel engines have been fitted to UAVs, cars (civilian and race types), watercraft and even hand-held power tools. The powerplant provides the Hermes 450 with a range of 124 miles and a listed endurance time of approximately 20 hours. Rate-of-climb is reported to be around 900 feet-per-minute with a maximum speed listed at 109 miles per hour, cruise being equal to 81 miles per hour.

Elbit Hermes 450 (Cont'd)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Elbit Hermes 450 (Cont'd)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Israel is the primary and, appropriately, the most quantitative operator of their Hermes 450 UAV system. An entire squadron of such vehicles has been formed and the air force has gone on to arm their Hermes 450 family (though the IAF has not officially confirmed this). As with American UAVs, Israeli UAVs - if armed - are thought to make use of the "Hellfire" anti-tank missile most synonymous with the tank-killing Apache helicopter, of which the Israelis operate in some number. The Hermes 450 has seen extensive action over the Gaza Strip and in the relatively recent 2006 Lebanon War, currently maintaining active operational status within the IAF ranks. In early 2009, Hermes 450 systems are said to have participated in a pair of airstrikes launched against Sudan in an effort to control the flow of Iranian arms into the Gaza Strip.

Brazil ordered some 15 total Hermes units to assist in their ongoing urban drug wars. It is currently evaluating a collection of Hermes operationally for the army and navy for the period not to exceed one year. In 2007, Croatia received at least two Hermes 450 systems. Similarly, the Mexican government received an unknown number of Hermes 450 examples in 2009. Singapore has made it known that it acquire the Hermes 450 to add to its growing list of operational UAVs.

Georgia has actively fielded the Hermes 450 in the skies above the disputed Abkhazia region. The breakaway republic of Abkhazia is recognized by some countries (including Russia) as an autonomous nation while others (including the United States) consider it to be a part of Georgia proper. It borders the Black Sea and thus gives it a strategic value in the region. However, in 2008, at least three (perhaps as many as seven) Hermes 450 systems belonging to the Georgian Air Force were shot down during the period of March 2008 to May 2008 (either by Russian or Abkhazian forces). The overflights were seen as a direct violation of the 1994 "Agreement on a Cease-Fire and Separation of Forces" (also known as the "1994 Moscow Agreement") signed by both parties and witnessed by the United States and Russia.

The United Kingdom operate the Hermes 450 UAV as part of an artillery regiment of the British Royal Army (32nd Regiment Royal Artillery). The system has seen active participation in British involvement throughout the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the UK variant does not include provision for the fitting of armament but does make use of an integrated laser gyroscope for inertial navigation. An upgrade to the Hermes 450 program, falling under the project name of "Watchkeeper", is slated to replace the older 450-series with the improved "Hermes 450 B" model (be known in the British inventory under the designation of "WK450"). This newer Hermes is said to wield all-weather capability and a reinforced structure for the rigors of an active battlefield environment as well as Ground-Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) and dual electro-optical payloads. Replacements are scheduled to begin sometime in 2010.

The United States has tested the Hermes 450 system for both the US Border Patrol and the US Department of Defense.


YEAR: 2003
STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Elbit Systems - Israel
LENGTH: 20.01 ft (6.1 m)
WIDTH: 34.45 ft (10.5 m)
MTOW: 992 lb (450 kg)
POWER: 1 x UEL R802/902(W) Wankel engine delivering 52 horsepower.
SPEED: 109 mph (176 kph; 95 kts)
CEILING: 17,999 feet (5,486 m; 3.41 miles)
RANGE: 124 miles (200 km; 108 nm)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 900 ft/min (274 m/min)
OPERATORS: Brazil; Croatia; Georgia; Israel; Mexico; Singapore; United Kingdom; United States

None. Though possibly 2 x Hellfire antitank missiles if armed.
Variants / Models

• Hermes 450 - Base Series Designation; reconnaissance, surveillance and tactical long endurance variant.
• Hermes 450 B - British "Watchkeeper" program baseline model.
• "Watchkeeper" WK450 - British designation of Hermes 450 B production model.
• Hermes 900 - Medium Altitude, Long Endurance Variant; assault capabilities.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (109mph).

Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Elbit Hermes 450's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (100)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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