Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

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Hermes 450

Botswana, Zambia

Hermes 900

Iceland, Switzerland



Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

General Information

The Hermes drone, manufactured by Elbit Systems, is one of the most widely used military drones in the world.

The Hermes 450, originally designed for long endurance surveillance missions, can stay aloft for up to 24 hours at altitudes of up to 18,000 feet and has an array of optical, infrared, and laser sensors.  The Hermes 450 also has bombing capabilities, as it can carry four Spike medium range air-to-ground missiles (manufactured by Rafael).

The Hermes 900, the second in the Hermes series also manufactured by Elbit Systems, can stay up for over 30 hours and cover a distance of up to 7,500km.[1]Drone Wars : Fractured Bodies, Fractured Lives, Israel Drone Wars

Variations:  Hermes 450, Hermes 900

Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 were sold to dozens of countries all over the world, including: Botswana, Mexico and the Philippines.[2]Drone Center, Bard, Drone Database. The British army used Hermes 450 UAVs in Aghanistan and Iraq.[3]Drone Wars UK : Report on Israeli drones. in 2018 the EU awarded Elbit Systems a $68m contract to provide patrol services to EMSA through the lease and operation of a Hermes 900 drone system.[4]Elbit Systems: New Release

In July 2021 the Hermes-450 was operated in the first ever international joint drone drill named “Blue Guardian”, that was led by the Israeli Air Force. Participants from Israel, Germany, Italy, France, the US and the UK operated the Zik (Hermes 450) drone in a variety of scenarios. The drill at Palmahim air base in central Israel lasted two weeks.[5]JPost : Blue Guardian International Joint Drone Drill led by Israel

Hermes 450 of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Use by Israeli Forces

Both the Hermes 450 and the Hermes 900 were used in all military operations since 2014. Hermes drones were used at the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza (Protective Edge), and for the Hermes 900, only planned to be operational in 2015, it was a first operational debut.[6]Drone Wars : Fractured Bodies, Fractured Lives, Israel Drone Wars In 2018 it was made public that a missile that killed 4 Palestinian children aged 9, 10, 10 and 11 on the Gaza beach 4 years earlier, were fired from a Hermes 450 drone.

On 27th December 2008, the first day of IDF offensive operation Cast Lead, an IDF drone, either Heron or Hermes 450, launched a missile against a group of people across the street from the UNRWA-sponsored Gaza Technical College in downtown Gaza City killing twelve, nine of whom were students and three were civilian bystanders. On 29th December, drones (again, either Hermes 450, or Herons) launched a missile at a truck outside a metal shop in Jabalya. Eight people died in the attack including four minors. The owner of the truck Ahmed Samur, whose son died in the strike, in an interview with B’Tselem denied any connection to Hamas and said that the truck was shipping oxygen cannisters of metal welding.[7]Drone Wars : Fractured Bodies, Fractured Lives, Israel Drone Wars

Both Hermes drones are in regular use by the Israeli air-force both in Gaza and Lebanon. A Hermes drone was reportedly shot down in Iran[8]AlJazaeera : Israel used Hermes drone in Iran and in Iraq [9]Drone Wars : Fractured Bodies, Fractured Lives, Israel Drone Wars in 2014.

Hermes drones were operating in the Israeli operation “Guardian of the Walls” in Gaza in May 2021. The Israeli Army published in their official website that the army conducted around 643 flights during the operation, among them with Hermes drones.[10]IDF Official Website : Drones used in Guardian of the Walls

In July 2022 Israel’s Military admitted officialy to have used attack drones in many occasions in Gaza and other locations, specifically mentioning the Hermes 450 and the Hermes 900.[11]I24 News : Israel’s Military Admits To Using Attack Drones

The Hermes drones are operated by the Air Force’s 161st Squadron and the Artillery Corps unit 5252, from the Palmachim Airbase.[12]Times of Israel : Armed drones gave IDF ‘surgical’ precision during recent Gaza fighting, officers say

Brig. Gen. Neri Horowitz, the commanding officer of the Artillery Corps confirmed that Unit 5252, the attack drone unit, has existed for more than two decades. “Since its inception, it has been a model for unique collaboration within the IDF,” he said.[13]Times of Israel : Armed drones gave IDF ‘surgical’ precision during recent Gaza fighting, officers say

In August 2022, Israeli Military Executives told “Times of Israel” that drones conducted more than 2,000 hours of flight time in some 100 sorties during the 66-hour battle, dubbed Operation “Breaking Dawn”, between 05.-08, August 2022. According to the report dozens of targets were hit by the drones, mainly using the Elbit Hermes 450.[14]Times of Israel : Armed drones gave IDF ‘surgical’ precision during recent Gaza fighting, officers say

Gaza 2023 – 2024

On April 2, 2024, the Israeli military used a Hermes 450 drone to fire 3 missiles at a World Central Kitchen convoy in Deir al-Balah, killing seven WCK workers: Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, Laizawmi “Zomi” Frankcom, Damian Soból, Jacob Flinkinger, John Chapman, James “Jim” Henderson and James Kirby. [15]Haaretz: IDF Drone Bombed World Central Kitchen Aid Convoy Three Times, Targeting Armed Hamas Member Who Wasn’t There