IAF looks to buy more drones

Military will buy Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900 and Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1.

Israeli drone 248.88 (photo credit: http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/aircraft/ua)
Israeli drone 248.88
(photo credit: http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/aircraft/ua)
The Israel Air Force is seeking to augment its drone capability with the procurement of new medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), some of which are capable, according to foreign reports, of firing missiles.
The decision was made to buy Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900 and additional units of Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1, which is the IAF’s reconnaissance and surveillance workhorse.
The IAF purchased three Hermes 900 UAVs for evaluation in May 2010 and is waiting for final approval to purchase additional systems from the IDF General Staff, which is in the midst of finalizing the military’s multi-year procurement plan for the coming five years.
IAF plans are to establish a new squadron of medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAVs consisting of the Hermes 900 and the Heron 1.
The Hermes 900 is based on the smaller Hermes 450, which has been in IAF service for a number of years, and according to foreign media reports is used frequently to fire missiles at terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip.
The Hermes 900 can carry almost double the size of the payload of the smaller Hermes 450, including an electrooptic camera, laser designator, radar, electronic intelligence and electronic warfare.
A diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks last week detailed a discussion last year between Military Advocate- General Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit and the US ambassador regarding a drone attack during Operation Cast Lead in 2009.
Mandelblit met with the US Ambassador James Cunningham to update him on the IDF’s investigations into Operation Cast Lead and to ask for help in containing the Goldstone Report and preventing the International Criminal Court from investigating alleged Israeli war crimes.
One of the cases discussed during the meeting was the bombing of a group of Hamas terrorists who were standing next to a mosque in Gaza during the operation.
The door to the mosque, which was full of people, had been left open and shrapnel flew inside killing 16 Palestinians.
“Mandelblit said the facts were known: A UAV shot at two Hamas fighters in front of the mosque and 16 casualties resulted inside the mosque due to an open door through which shrapnel entered during a time of prayer,” Cunningham wrote in the cable that was sent to the State Department.