by Inquirer.net| September 30, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Air Force has received the first batch of medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) it ordered from Israel, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.
“We’ve received two of our bigger drones — the Hermes 450 — and we expect more deliveries this year and next year,” he revealed in a Senate budget hearing.
The initial batch of these drones arrived in August, he said.
The defense chief was referring to the P8-billion project from Elbit Systems, which includes three units of Hermes 450 UAVs and 9 units of Hermes 900 UAVs.
It would likely be deployed in Sulu or Palawan after the Air Force finishes training on how to operate it, he added.
On its official website, the Hermes 450 UAVs are described as the workhorse of the Israeli Defense Force in counter-terror operations.
The “mature and combat-proven” UAVs have a class-leading safety and reliability record, it said.
These drones can reach an altitude of 18,000 feet and an endurance of approximately 20 hours.
The Hermes 900, meanwhile, is the larger and more sophisticated type of drone. It can be used for ground support and maritime patrol missions. It has a service ceiling of 30,000 feet and flight endurance of up to 36 hours.
The Philippine Navy and Philippine Army will also have their own advanced type of UAVs, Lorenzana said.
His agency has also bought 530 “small drones” for the military’s tactical units, battalions and brigades, he added.
The status of the Philippine military’s drone acquisition program was brought up by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, as the Department National Defense sought for a P25 million budget for unmanned aerial system facilities for next year. /je