In a recent visit to Squadron 161, the “Black Snake” that operates the Elbit Systems Hermes-450 UAV (Zik), one of the unmanned systems armed with different types of munitions the importance of the IAF armed UAV ‘s was demonstrated.
The munitions carried by this type of armed UAV and others are highly classified and according to sources are very accurate and deadly. New versions are added to the arsenal that was developed for use on this UAV.
Israeli industry sources said that in the coming years the IAF will get the new version of the Hermes-450 that according to them will be capable of carrying a heavier load of munitions.
Videos of IAF attacks on terror targets in Gaza showed pinpoint attacks on targets that were on one of the upper floors of a high rise building. The IAF’s armed UAV performed most of these attacks.
Recently, after 20 years a gag order has been removed and Israel has confirmed that its air force has been using armed UAV.
Squadron 161 operates from the Palmachim air base in central Israel and is one of the most active combat squadrons of the IAF.
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.
According to Elbit, the Hermes-450 is equipped according to mission with different types of payloads.
Major M., deputy commander of the squadron, told me that all the missions are controlled from a two-men station in the base. The mission commander and the operator seat side by side watching the data transmitted by the UAV.
“We receive missions from the high command and it is allocated to platforms already over the designated area or to otters that are in the air after a few minutes. We are on high alert and can launch a number of armed UAVs in minutes” she said.
Major M. added that in some missions the squadron’s UAVs are operated in conjunction with UAVs from other squadrons.
The IAF operates other types of armed UVAs, like the Elbit Systems Hermes-900 and the IsraeliAaerospace Industries (IAI) Heron-TP .
“Our squadron’s UAV are flying over an area and collect intelligence. When a target is detected and confirmed the mission commander approves the launch of the munitions. There is a man in the lop all the time so that the mission can be aborted if there is a danger of hitting the not involved.”
According to media reports, the IAF armed UAVs are operated intensively over Gaza, the stronghold of the Hamas terror organization. Gaza is very densely populated and in the past attack missions have been aborted in the last minute when uninvolved were seen near the target.
The fact that 80% of the total number of the IAF’s flight hours are performed by UAVs is not surprising when you hear about the volume of missions performed by these advanced unmanned platforms.