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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

First Hermes 450 UAV for the Philippine Air Force Scheduled to Arrive Soon

It is an exciting time for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP) has finally come early this year. But what is even more exciting is that fruits of the program can be had earlier than expected. This, considering  defense contracts of select few projects under the Horizon 2 phase were only signed a few months ago.

Actually, this is the air asset that was suppose to arrive on August 2018. This blog entry was pushed back as MaxDefense found out from sources from several government agencies and the military, that the Department of Budget Management was delayed in releasing the funds, thus the manufacturer cannot deliver as per original schedule.

The mystery aircraft is no other than the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV), which is part of the Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS).

This is the actual Hermes 450 UAV that is bound for the Philippine Air Force, as shown during a demonstration and inspection in Israel recently. It would be applied with PAF colors and markings prior to delivery hopefully within the year.
Thanks to our source for allowing this photo to be posted in this blog entry.

The Hermes 450 MALE UAS:

The Elbit Systems Hermes 450 MALE UAS is one of the latest MALE UAS models being offered by Elbit Systems of Israel, and was designed to be lightweight but with high payload capacity, high performance payloads, minimum operator load, a highly autonomous system, with full redundancy design for safety, with future growth capacity, mobility and rapid deployment, and high maintainability.

It is capable of providing wide range of missions in support of intelligence collection, combat operations, search and rescue, homeland defense and security including low intensity conflicts and peacetime operations.

The system provides Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) mssions based on Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) method. This is focused on the operation of the Electro-Optical Infra-Red (EO/IR) payload which is capable of day and night operations.

It is also capable of providing support of firing units, which can be integrated to battlefield systems of offensive units like artillery, armored units, fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, naval vessels, etc), the Hermes 450 can provide accurate target reports, monitoring of engagements, detecting fall of short and providing calculated firing corrections, and assessing effectiveness of engagement via Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) capability.

Aside from Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) capability, the Hermes 450 is also capable of carrying other sensors include Synthetic Aperture Radar, Ground Moving Target Indicator, Medium Power Radar, and Automatic Identification System. Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Electronic Warfare (EW), Communication Intelligence (COMINT) and COMMJAM payloads are also possible to increase the UAV system's overall capability in support of battlefield operations.

The basic Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial System is composed of the following elements:

1. The Hermes 450 Unammed Air Vehicle (UAV) - which is the actual UAV;

2. Payload - which may include the EO/IR system;
3. Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS);
4. Ground Data Terminal (GDT);
5. Ground Support Equipment - which may include testing equipment, facilities, transport and infrastructure.

What a Ground Control Station may look like, which controls the Hermes 450 for flight operations, data gathering, and system monitoring.
Photo taken from Airforce Technology's website.

MaxDefense will be using open sources for its blog despite the availability of actual database on the system's capability, for security reasons:

The aerial vehicle is 6.1 meters long, has a wingspan of around 10.5 meters, a maximum take-off weight of 450 kilograms, and has a maximum payload weight of 150 kilograms. It is powered by a UAV Engines Limited R802/902(W) Wankel engine with an output of 39KW.

It also has a cruising speed of 130 kilometers per hour, and a top speed of 176 kilometers per hour, maximum range of 300 kilometers, although depending on the line of sight conditions, a safe range of 150 kilometers from the UGCS is advised, although this can be extended depending on UGCS configuration. It has a maximum endurance of between 14 to 17 hours depending on payload configuration, while having a maximum operating altitude of 16,000 feet above sea level.

The Hermes 450 is currently being operated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), as well as other export markets like the Azerbaijani Air Force, Brazilian Air Force, Georgian Air Force, Mexican Air Force, the US Border Patrol. It is also used by other ASEAN militaries including the Republic of Singapore Air Force, and the Royal Thai Army which received their Hermes 450 only recently.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Command also operate the Hermes 450.
Credits to owner of the photo.

The Philippine Air Force's Acquisition of Hermes 450 MALE UAS:

The acquisition of the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) is actually just a part of the Philippine Air Force's Unmanned Aerial Systems Level 3 acquisition project, which has a larger scope of coverage which MaxDefense will discuss in the future. The Approved Budget of Contract (ABC) for this project is Php8,470,000,000.00 and is a Government-to-Government (G2G) undertaking between the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) and Israel's Ministry of Defense (MoD).

The PAF's UAS Level 3 Acquisition Project (see item #2) is among those approved for implementation within 2018 under the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP. Here it is shown as part of the PAF's report on Horizon 2 phase projects.
Photo taken from MaxDefense sources.

While the specific quantity was requested by sources to be made confidential, what we can say for now is that the project involves at least 1 whole system of Hermes 450 UAS, with several Hermes 450 UAVs in it. Once delivered, the Hermes 450 will be the most capable drone in the AFP's inventory for at least the very near future. The PAF's 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing (300thAISW) will be the operating unit for these assets, which already use other ISR platforms like the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ISR, the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle 2 UAS, and the C-130T patrol aircraft in collaboration with the 220th Airlift Wing.

MaxDefense believes that the Hermes 450 UAS would be used by the Philippine Air Force for ISR missions within the country's land and sea areas, as well as for limited use in the country's Exclusive Economic Zone. The availability of multiple types of assets allow the AFP to have a platform that is best suited for specific missions.

MaxDefense believes that the rest of the Hermes 450 fleet and equipment will be delivered to the Philippine Air Force either late this year, or within the 1st half of 2019. By that time, MaxDefense believes that the PAF will already have sufficient number of operators, maintenance personnel, and data analysts to maximize the capability of the Hermes 450 in its war and peace time operations.

Elbit Systems has been offering the Hermes 450 to the AFP since 2010. It took them 8 years to succeed with a sale.
Photo taken from MaxDefense sources.

How Was Early Delivery Possible?

Even MaxDefense was surprised to find out that a deal that was signed in April 2018 can make an advance delivery of an initial unit by August 2018, merely 4 months after the deal was finalized.

It turns out that the Hermes 450 unit that the PAF will receive soon is a goodwill unit provided by Elbit Systems to the Philippine Air Force, and is actually already available even before the contract was signed. Initially it would be used as a training unit for future Hermes 450 and other future UAV systems of the Philippine Air Force, although it would also be used later on as an ISR platform like all other units coming in from 2019 to 2020.

Take note that August 2018 was the official target delivery date of the first Hermes 450 UAV unit and its associated operating and support equipment. But as mentioned above, it was confirmed to us by our sources that the DBM was delayed in releasing the funds to cover for the Letter of Credit (LOC), which is an important basis for the contractor to start the work. 

As of this writing, MaxDefense was informed that the funds has been released and the Letter of Credit opened, and it is now expected that Elbit Systems will now be able to make the first delivery of the Hermes 450 unit within 4 months, more or less.

The Future of UAVs Looks Bright in the AFP:

As mentioned earlier, the Hermes 450 is just one part of the PAF's UAS acquisition. More assets are expected to arrive very soon under this project including several Elbit Systems' Hermes 900 UAS, while the PAF is still looking at further UAS acquisitions in the Horizon 3 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

Aside from the Philippine Air Force, another active acquisition project of multi-tier UAV systems will be from the Philippine Army, which is looking at drones as small as the Orbiter 2, to as large as the Hermes 450. 

The Philippine Navy is also active in its plans to acquire Unmanned Aerial Systems, which could be launched from ships for use by the Philippine Fleet, or standard land-launched UAS for use by the Philippine Marine Corps. The PMC is already a confirmed user of the Super Swiper II UAS delivered in 2017 under its MITSS acquisition project.

MaxDefense will discuss more about these Army and Navy projects in the near future.

The Philippine Navy is seen here testing what appears to be a commercially-available Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) Fixed Wing UAV, as seen on a helicopter deck of a warship.
Photo sent to MaxDefense by a community member, although was said to be first posted in the Defense of the Republic of the Philippines FB page by one of its followers. Credits to DRP and its original poster.


1. Unmanned Aerial System Level 3 Acquisition Project (Partial) - Hermes 450 MALE UAS

End User: Philippine Air Force (300th Air Intelligence & Security Wing)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP
ABC: Php8,470,000,000.00
SARO Release: N/A
Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems through Government-to-Government deal between Philippine Department of National Defense and Israel Ministry of Defense
Contract Price: Php8,470,000,000.00 for entire project
First post by MaxDefense: 08 August 2017


  1. I knew it... It is the HERMES 450.. Thats going to arrive and will fly soon. This "goodwill unit" will be used for training but... does it have the same capability with the 450s ordered? For the record, this initial unit is not part of the 450s that was bought by DND(no. Units? + 1 deal)

  2. Sir is there something wrong with your FB wall? I was able to view your recent updates that included this Hermes post and the Adelaide-class earlier. But now, despite several refresh attempts I can't see it.

  3. Sir, so the hermes 900 is part of this project but in a separate acquisition? Or they are all in a single acquisition?

  4. Why is it so expensive? For 4 H-450, means about US$40m per UAV. All-up cost for pne can’t be so expensive, even if including exclusive elp to set up n train the squadron. The H-450 itself wouldn’t cost more than $8m. Thailand’s 4 H-450 cost US$32m only.

  5. Sir Max is it possible please for you to make a blog about this[0]=68.ARCxdZlqJoh-FkMizUnBtOmNvkpDpV1QqPkdEdM7Rk-GkZKAzsXypB7VKiuOV4Zd6RRggZx2ArzFZhXguC5EUMBNC_eeAQKAVpRn_kubpO28J-Pb2LL6OHKLRiNYiGZWNHimIUE&__tn__=kC-R. well this fb page posted about f16 v the page said it was the f16 offered to PRD but he refused it. Is there truth on it?and why?

  6. Sir Max what was the assistance provided by Israel to the Philippines during the Marawi seige as mentioned by Pres. Duterte in his speech in Jerusalem?

  7. Hi Max! It,s Tania, from a Spanish company leader in Defense industry worldwide and UAV manufacturer. Would you send me an email contact so I can let you know some news that might be of your interest? Thanks in advance.


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