Elbit Systems is launching a maritime configuration of its Hermes 900 medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV, aiming at the growing demand for unmanned aircraft in maritime missions worldwide, particularly in Asia.

The company is unveiling the new configuration at the Aero India 2013 event in Bengaluru.

Maritime surveillance and patrol capabilities have become particularly important in recent years, as countries are required to cover growing maritime areas claimed by the Economical Exclusion Zones (EEZ) that span up to 200 nm from their coastline or farthest island.

Israel’s recent discovery of offshore natural gas made maritime surveillance one of the nation’s top-priority missions, to help protect vulnerable drilling platforms against hostile attack. The newly launched maritime Hermes 900 can carry payloads of up to 350 kg (770 lb.), including maritime surveillance radar, Automatic Identification System (AIS), an electro-optical multi-sensor payload and electronic surveillance systems.

According to Ofer Ber-Dov, vice president for marketing and business development at Elbit’s Unmanned Systems Division, the Maritime Hermes 900 has the endurance to cover vast ocean areas and is equipped with redundant line-of-sight and satellite communications links and radio relay, enabling the operator to “talk” to vessels at sea. “The aerodynamic efficiency of the Hermes 900 enables the operators to perform frequent changes in flight profiles, to enable visual identification of vessels at sea in addition to the classification of vessels based on their Inverse SAR (ISAR) signature, provided by the radar.”

Satellite communication enables the UAV to fly to mission areas at extended ranges as far as 1,000 nm from shore. The redundancy in datalinks enables the control of two UAVs simultaneously from a single ground control station. The entire command-and-control (C2) station is located in a single shelter, which can be operated on shore in a mobile base or indoor configurations at sea or co-located in several locations. Missions include anti-submarine missions or search and rescue.

To further improve the efficiency of the country’s EEZ, Elbit has teamed with Windward, integrating the WindWard’s satellite-based maritime intelligence analytic system into the Hermes 900 maritime C2 system. As a global information system, it covers any area of interest, assisting in tracking maritime traffic, illegal fishery monitoring, and effectively managing port traffic. The system performs deep behavior analysis on each ship in its footprint, searching for irregularities and discrepancies from routine activities, and giving warning on suspicious or hostile activities.

Meanwhile, in the past year Elbit has also made substantial inroads with its newest Multi-Spectral Infrared Countermeasure (Music) — Directed Infrared Countermeasure (Dircm) system. The latest milestone has been the full system testing of the commercial variant (C-Music). The system recently performed a series of successful flight tests onboard an Israel Air Force Boeing 707 flying tanker. The demand for such systems has soared in recent years, with the proliferation of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, particularly with terrorist groups in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

C-Music is been fielded throughout Israel’s commercial airliners as part of the SkyShield program, protecting commercial aircraft flying to high-threat destinations using a simple, low-drag A-Kit adapter. When the aircraft is scheduled to fly into a destination defined as high threat, a C-Music pod is installed, requiring only power and control links pre-configured during the initial installation. Elbit is offering three different derivatives of Music: the basic system, a fixed installation and a version for protecting military transport aircraft and helicopters.

This system was selected by the Italian air force to protect C-27, C-130J and AW101 and combat-search-and-rescue helicopters and also installed operationally on a fleet of AW101 helicopters for VIP transport. C-Music was configured as a self-contained, self-protection product configured for large commercial aircraft, including the PAWS Infra-Red Missile warning System and Music Dircm, installed in an aerodynamic pod.

The Dircm associated with C-Music is also provided in the standalone J-Music, configured for heavy transport planes such as aerial tankers or VIP aircraft in a single or dual-turret configuration. J-Music has already been selected for Embraer’s KC-390 program in Brazil.

Hermes 900 photo: Elbit Systems