Israel-Hamas War: Elbit  Systems’ Hermes-450 UAVs Used for Attacking Hamas Targets by Israeli Air Force

By Arie Egozi

Foreign Affairs

Tel Aviv: Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) squadron 161 is a major player in the fighting against the Hamas in Gaza. Squadron 161, the “Black Snake” operates the Elbit Systems’ Hermes -450 UAV (Zik), one of the unmanned systems armed with different types of munitions. Squadron 161 operates from the Palmachim air base in central Israel.

These munitions have been developed by Israeli companies and according to sources are very accurate and deadly. The details of these munitions missiles and bombs, are highly classified. New versions developed for use on this UAV have been added to the arsenal.

Videos of IAF attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza in recent days showed pinpoint hits on targets that were inside one of the upper floors of a high rise building. The IAF armed UAV performed most of these attacks.

According to Elbit Systems, the Hermes-450 can be quickly deployed. The company says that the systems’ ground control system is used for mission management (GCS) and that with two ground data terminals, the Hermes 450 can carry out two missions simultaneously from a single GCS (GDT).

The Hermes -450 has a takeoff weight of 550 kg and can carry a 180 kg payload. The UAV has a 17 hours endurance and can operate in altitudes of up to 18.000 feet. The Hermes-450 is equipped according to mission with different types of payloads, according to Elbit Systems.

The war is expected to increase the part of the IAF UAVs in the total flight hours performed by the IAF. Before the war, 80% of the total number of the IAF flight hours have been performed by UAVs . This number is now higher.

According to the IAF, the squadron is capable of real time sensor to shooter operations and this is enabled by the accurate intelligence gathered by the UAVs payload, combined with additional details that are received from other sources.

While the IAF refused to release details of the different munitions used by its different armed UAV squadrons, industry sources said that the variety of munitions that are designed for use on UAV has been increased to meet the growing operational requirements.