Elbit Hermes 450

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Hermes 450
A Hermes 450 from 166 Squadron in flight
Role Unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aerial vehicle
National origin Israel
Manufacturer Elbit Systems
Introduction 1998
Status Active
Primary user Israeli Air Force
Variants Thales Watchkeeper WK450
Developed into Elbit Hermes 900

The Elbit Hermes 450 is an Israeli medium-sized multi-payload unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for tactical long endurance missions. It has an endurance of over 20 hours, with a primary mission of reconnaissance, surveillance and communications relay. Payload options include electro-optical/infrared sensors, communications and electronic intelligence, synthetic-aperture radar/ground-moving target indication, electronic warfare, and hyperspectral sensors.

Operational history[edit]

Elbit Hermes 900 & Elbit Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicle in formation


On September 12, 2011, a UAV was reportedly shot down by the Artsakh Defense Army (ARDA) over the airspace of the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh.[1] Preliminary investigations carried out by the ARDA have determined the model to be a Hermes 450 type.[2]


A Conexão Reporter story on the 2018 military intervention in Rio de Janeiro shows that at least one Hermes 450 drone was used by the Brazilian military to provide ISR during security operations.[3]


In April 2008, amid Georgian and Russian spy plane shootdowns, three Elbit Hermes 450 were shot down by Russian forces, one by a Mig-29 and other two by ground fire.[4] The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated and showed the debris of two Herbil drones shot down on March 18 and April 20 with serial numbers 551 and 553 respectively.[5] A UNOMIG mission report said that the panel found the debris of at least three Georgian Hermes 450 drones shot down on 18 March, 20 April and 12 May 2008. Abkhazian forces claimed 7 drones shot down.[6] According to Georgia's president and emails from Stratfor, the drones data link codes were given to Russia by Israel in exchange for the codes for Tor-M1 missile defense systems that Russia sold Iran.[7][8]


Israeli Hermes 450 UAVs has seen service in the Gaza Strip operations, the Second Lebanon War as well as in the 2009 Sudan air raids.[9][10][11]

Three Hermes 450 drones were lost during the 2006 Lebanon War, two by technical difficulties and one by an operator error.[10]

On 11 July 2015, an Israeli Hermes 450 drone was reported crashed near Tripoli port, Lebanon. The drone was 8 meters under water and was retrieved by the Lebanese Army.[12][13]

On 31 March 2018, an Israeli Hermes 450 drone crashed due to a technical failure. An additional Israeli drone bombed the crashed drone. The Lebanese Army issued a statement saying that the crashed drone was found to be equipped with four unexploded ordnance. A technical unit of the Lebanese Army detonated it.[14]

On 5 November, 2023 during the Lebanon Israeli clashes related to the 2023 Israel Hamas war, Hezbollah shot down an Israeli Hermes 450 drone that was flying over Nabatieh south Lebanon.[15] Wreckage of the drone fell over houses in the towns of Zabdin and Harouf.[16]

On 26 February, 2024 Hezbollah shot down a Hermes 450 drone with a surface to air missile.[17]

United Kingdom[edit]

The Hermes 450 was operated by the 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery of the British Army on military operations in Afghanistan, supplied under a leasing contract starting July 2007 from a Thales/Elbit consortium.[18] Of the 52 operated by the British in Afghanistan and Iraq, seven have crashed in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.[19][20]

United States[edit]

In initial testing, the Hermes 450 was used to capture pictures of farmland in North Dakota, the only state with an FAA clearance to fly drones above the current federal maximum height limit of 200 feet.[21]


Map with Hermes 450 operators in blue and former operators in red
A Hermes 450 landing
Hermes 450 of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection
 Azerbaijan [22]
  • 10 Hermes 450 UAVs were purchased in 2008.
 Botswana [23]
  • The Brazilian Air Force has, since December 2009 a unit under lease for 1 year of testing and evaluations in conjunction with the Brazilian Army and Brazilian Navy;[24] there are plans to buy two more.[25] The Brazilian Air Force operated two in 2011, with two more delivered in February 2013.[26]
  • In August 2012, Elbit won a multimillion-dollar contract to supply a mixed fleet of Hermes 900 and 450 unmanned air systems to Colombia.[27] In July 2013, the Colombian Aerospace Force confirmed they have one Hermes 450 on order, to be accepted in the coming months.[28]

During various interviews on Israel TV Kan 11, following the Oct. 7th 2023 Hamas attack on south Israel, Zik drone operators were interviewed saying that the Drone was armed with multiple guided munitions which are mixed types: anti-personnel and anti-tank. It could be indirectly understood that there are 4 munitions in total per sortie.

 North Macedonia
  • Philippine Army - Elbit Systems through a press release on their website announced that they were awarded a US$153 million contract to supply a networked multi-array unmanned aerial system array to a Southeast Asian army. According to Maxdefense, that country is the Philippines and is a part of the C41STAR Unmanned Aerial Systems Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army. The acquisition includes Elbit Thor Multirotor VTOL Mini UAS (Level 1), Elbit Skylark 1-LEX Mini UAS (Level 1), Elbit Skylark 3 Tactical Small UAS (Level 2), and Elbit Hermes 450 Tactical Long Endurance UAS (Level 3).[32]
  • The Philippine Air Force received full delivery of three Hermes 900 and one Hermes 450 unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as part of a contract worth approximately $175 million. Each system consists of three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a ground control system and support equipment. Elbit Systems also included a spare used Hermes 450 UAV as part of the deal, for a total of 9 Hermes 900 UAVs and 4 Hermes 450 UAVs. These units will be operated by the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing.[33]
  • The Royal Thai Army has taken delivery of four Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, The UAVs are operated by the 21st Aviation Battalion at the Army Aviation Centre at Lopburi.[35]
 United States

Former operators[edit]

 United Kingdom

The British version of Hermes 450 was the only Hermes to use laser gyroscopes in its inertial navigation system. The UK Ministry Of Defence did not take up the option for wing mounted armament. The Hermes 450 is the basis of the British Army's Watchkeeper WK450, development of which started in July 2005 in conjunction with Thales. In September 2013, the Hermes 450 reached 70,000 flight hours supporting British troops in Afghanistan, the equivalent of 8 years of non-stop flying. The British had flown the Hermes 450 more than any other country in Afghanistan.[38] As of January 2014, British Hermes 450 air vehicles flew over 86,000 hours over Iraq and Afghanistan. Up to nine aircraft operated from Camp Bastion and conducted five flights per day, accumulating a combined 70 hours of surveillance coverage.[39] When the Watchkeeper WK450 entered service in Afghanistan in mid-September 2014 and the ground-based radar coverage at Bastion was switched off, the British Army stopped using the interim leased Hermes 450.[40]


Data from Elbit Systems Australia[41] israeli-weapons.com[34]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 0
  • Capacity: 180 kg (400 lb)
  • Length: 6.1 m (20 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.5 m (34 ft 5 in)
  • Gross weight: 550 kg (1,213 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 105 kg (231 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × UAV Engines Limited R802/902(W) Wankel engine, 39 kW (52 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 176 km/h (109 mph, 95 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 130 km/h (80 mph, 70 kn)
  • Stall speed: 78 km/h (48 mph, 42 kn)
  • Range: 300 km (190 mi, 160 nmi)
  • Endurance: 17 hours (450LE - 30 hours)
  • Service ceiling: 5,500 m (18,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 4.6 m/s (900 ft/min)
  • Max mission radius: 200 km (120 mi; 110 nmi)


  1. ^ "Azerbaijani Drone Reportedly Downed Over Republic of Artsakh." RFE/RL. September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  2. ^ Mortimer, Gary. "Armenian military shoot down Israeli made drone operated by Azerbaijani armed forces." sUAS News. September 15, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
  3. ^ A Missão - Parte 1 (YouTube) (in Portuguese). Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão. 8 October 2018. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  4. ^ "Israel to limit UAV sales to Georgia to avoid upsetting Russia". 11 August 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Russia Says Georgia Violates Treaty by Drone Flights". Civil Georgia. 2008-04-22. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
  6. ^ a b "Report of UNOMIG on the Incident of 20 April Involving the Downing of a Georgian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Over the Zone of Conflict(PDF)" (PDF). UNOMIG.
  7. ^ "Civil.Ge | Saakashvili Says Drones, Bought from Israel, were Compromised". old.civil.ge. Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  8. ^ "WikiLeaks: Russia gave Israel Iranian system's codes". Ynetnews. February 28, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  9. ^ "Israeli army document confirms use of Hermes 450 drones in assassinations". Middle East Monitor. 7 April 2016.
  10. ^ a b Egozi, Arie (29 August 2006). "Israel praises UAV abilities during Operation Change of Direction anti-Hezbollah Lebanon campaign". Flight Global.
  11. ^ "Israeli drones destroy rocket smuggling convoys in Sudan". The Times. 29 March 2009.
  12. ^ "Israeli drone crashes in Lebanon's Tripoli". Alarabiyah. 11 July 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Lebanon says Israeli drone crashes at Tripoli port". Reuters. 11 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Israeli drone crashes in Lebanon due to malfunction". The Times of Israel. 31 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Hezbollah shoots down Israeli drone in Nabatieh region". 5 November 2023.
  16. ^ "بالفيديو: حطام مسيّرة إسرائيلية في النبطية". Nidaal Watan (in Arabic). 5 November 2023.
  17. ^ "IDF confirms Hezbollah shot down its drone over southern Lebanon". MSN. 26 February 2024.
  18. ^ Quentin Davies (26 January 2009). "Written Answers - Unmanned Air Vehicles". Hansard. 26 Jan 2009 : Column 40w. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Drone Crash Database". Dronewars. 6 July 2021.
  20. ^ Andrew Robathan (24 January 2013). "Written Answers - Unmanned Air Vehicles". Hansard. 24 Jan 2013 : Column 2mc. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  21. ^ "High-flying drone makes 1st flight to test farmland photos". AP News. 2016-05-20. Retrieved 2024-02-01.
  22. ^ "News.Az - List of ammunition purchased by Azerbaijan made public". news.az. Archived from the original on 2017-08-09. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  23. ^ "ok News - Aviation Industry and Airline Statistics".
  24. ^ "FAB apresenta primeiro avião não tripulado". Archived from the original on 2011-01-23.
  25. ^ "Brazil selects Elbit's Hermes 450 UAV". Retrieved 2010-12-19.
  26. ^ FAB Receives Two More Drones Archived 2017-09-17 at the Wayback Machine - Defense-Aerospace.com, February 18, 2013
  27. ^ "Elbit Systems sells Hermes UAVs to Colombia". Flightglobal.com.
  28. ^ La Fuerza Aérea de Colombia confirma finalmente la recepción de los UAVs Hermes 900 y 450 de Elbit Systems - Infodefensa.com, 24 July 2013
  29. ^ "Silver Arrow Hermes 450 - Macedonia - Air Force | Aviation Photo #2337877 | Airliners.net".
  30. ^ "Aviones no tripulados de las Fuerzas Armadas contra el crimen" (in Spanish). El Golfo.info. August 1, 2009. Archived from the original on August 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  31. ^ Garibian, Pablo (2010-08-24). "Mexico buys drones, may use for marijuana search". Reuters.
  32. ^ "Elbit Systems Awarded $153 Million Contract to Provide a Networked Multi-Layered UAS Array to an Army in Southeast Asia". Elbit Systems. Archived from the original on 2020-08-17. Retrieved 2019-10-29.
  33. ^ "Philippine Air Force receives full delivery of Hermes 900, Hermes 450 UAVs: report". Israel Defense. 10 September 2020.
  34. ^ a b "Hermes 450". israeli-weapons.com.
  35. ^ "Thailand expands ties with Israel through UAV acquisition". janes.com.
  36. ^ "United Kingdom". thalesgroup.co.uk. 25 September 2023. Archived from the original on 13 March 2007. Retrieved 18 January 2007.
  37. ^ Rojkes Dombe, Ami (13 September 2018). "Watch: Hermes 450 in the Service of the Zambian Air Force". Israel Defense.
  38. ^ Hermes 450 reaches 70,000 hours in Afghanistan - sUASNews.com, 19 September 2013
  39. ^ British Army confident on Watchkeeper service entry - Flightglobal.com, 16 January 2014
  40. ^ British Army praises performance of Watchkeeper during debut deployment - Flightglobal.com, 17 November 2014
  41. ^ "Hermes 450 - Tactical Long Endurance UAS". Elbit Systems Australia. Archived from the original on 2020-09-25. Retrieved 2020-09-13.

External links[edit]