Squadron 161, known as the ‘Black Snake,’ operates the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 UAV (Zik), one of the unmanned systems armed with various types of munitions. These munitions have been developed by Israeli companies and are known to be highly accurate and deadly. The details of these munitions, including missiles and bombs, are highly classified. New versions are continually added to the arsenal designed for use with this UAV.
Videos of IAF attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza in recent days have shown pinpoint hits on high-rise building targets. The IAF’s armed UAV plays a significant role in these precision strikes.
Squadron 161 operates from the Palmachim Air Base in central Israel.
According to Elbit Systems, the Hermes 450 can be rapidly deployed. The company notes that the ground control system (GCS) is used for mission management, and with two ground data terminals (GDT), the Hermes-450 can simultaneously execute two missions from a single GCS.
The Hermes-450 has a takeoff weight of 550 kg and can carry a 180 kg payload. The UAV boasts an endurance of 17 hours and can operate at altitudes of up to 18,000 feet. According to Elbit, the Hermes 450 can be equipped with different types of payloads to match the mission requirements.
The ongoing war is expected to increase the share of IAF UAVs in the total flight hours performed by the IAF. Before the war, UAVs accounted for 80% of the total number of IAF flight hours, and this percentage has now risen.
According to the IAF, the squadron is capable of real-time sensor-to-shooter operations, enabled by the accurate intelligence gathered by the UAV’s payload, in conjunction with additional information received from other sources.
While the IAF has declined to disclose details of the different munitions used by its various armed UAV squadrons, industry sources have indicated that the variety of munitions designed for use on UAVs has expanded to meet the growing operational requirements.