Israel’s Elbit Systems has been selected as a supplier of maritime surveillance drones for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN).
Thailand’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) Permanent Secretary General Warakiat Rattanonont has approved the official contract with Elbit Systems, which is expected to be signed within 30 days.
The UAVs will be used by the RTN for maritime surveillance, over-the-horizon targeting, search and rescue, and other maritime missions.
Elbit Systems offered the Hermes 900 Kochav medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial system (MALE UAS), and competed against fellow Israel-based defense company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and three other companies from Turkey, China and the United States.
With the RTN’s budget of THB 4 billion (US$120 million), Elbit Systems reportedly proposed to deliver 7 UAVs, while IAI proposed 5. Both the offers from Turkey and China proposed 3 UAVs, while the proponent from the United States failed the screening test.
The Elbit Systems Hermes 900 UAV has a length of 8.3 meters, a wingspan of 15 meters, a gross weight of 1,100 kilograms, and is powered by a Rotax 914 piston engine capable of providing the UAV with a cruise speed of 70 miles per hour, a maximum speed of up to 140 miles per hour, and an endurance of up to 36 hours with a maximum service ceiling of 9,100 meters.
It can carry different payloads up to 300 kilograms in total, which includes surveillance cameras, sensors and search and rescue packages.
The Hermes 900 Kochav UAV is considered as the successor to the smaller Hermes 450, in which the Royal Thai Army has 4 UAVs in service with the 21st Aviation Battalion.
Within Southeast Asia, the only other user of the type is the Philippine Air Force, which purchased 9 units in 2017.