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.
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.
October 2020 - Azerbaijan has been actively using its Hermes 450 series UAVs in the ISR role in its war with neighboring Armenia.
Azerbaijan; Brazil; Croatia; Georgia; Israel; Mexico; Singapore; United Kingdom; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
20.0 ft (6.10 m)
34.4 ft (10.50 m)
992 lb (450 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Elbit Hermes 450 production variant)
1 x UEL R802/902(W) Wankel engine delivering 52 horsepower.
Typically None. If armed, 2 x Hellfire Anti-Tank Guided Missiles or similar.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0
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.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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Front left side view of the Hermes 450 UAV belonging to the American border patrol
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Low angled right side rear view of the Hermes 450 UAV in flight
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Close up detail view of the positional optics center on a Hermes 450 UAV
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Close up detail view of the forward fuselage of an American border patrol Hermes 450 UAV under evaluation
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