The Israel Air Force is reviewing a new hyperspectral sensor for unmanned aerial vehicles that it believes may be the breakthrough it needs for early detection of tunnels and underground passageways in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

Developed by Elbit Systems, the hyperspectral imaging technology shows the wavelengths of materials, enabling an operator to identify the unique spectral signature of each target.

“This means that if a bush doesn’t match the natural vegetation in an area we will be able to detect it,” an IAF officer said.

The airborne hyper-spectral system is complemented by a ground segment that provides automatic interpretation of the images/data, and a mission planning system.

In addition to military applications, the new technology can also be applied for commercial and scientific use, such as by measuring pollution levels, testing water and searching for mineral deposits.

Elbit said it has designed the new payload for installation on the Hermes 900 unmanned-aerial vehicle and the older Hermes 450, which has been in IAF-service for a number of years, and according to foreign media reports is frequently used to fire missiles at terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. The air force recently bought a number of Hermes 900s for evaluation.

The Hermes 900 can carry almost double the payload of the smaller Hermes 450, including an electro-optic camera, laser designator, radar, and electronic intelligence and electronic warfare equipment.

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