This drone can stay airborne for up to 36 hours and has been converted for use in search and rescue operations to deliver life rafts to the middle of the ocean.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
Israel is known as a leader in the world of unmanned aircraft (drones) with Haifa-based Elbit Systems producing hundreds of different models that are used by countries around the world.
While the main function of drones is security for activities like reconnaissance missions, surveillance and anti-drug smuggling patrols, Elbit realized that their popular aircraft were needed for another important mission: search and rescue.
Elbit equipped its Hermes 900 maritime patrol drone with the ability to carry inflatable life rafts along with detection and identification equipment, giving the drone a new search-and-rescue function.
An undisclosed southeast Asian country recently bought several of the Hermes 900 search and rescue models, which can carry up to four life rafts. The Hermes can stay in the air for 36 hours or more and is now able to fly to disaster areas in the middle of the ocean to drop life-saving supplies where needed.
“Integrating detection and identification capabilities, onboard inflated life rafts, and precision dispatch capability, enables the Hermes 900 to perform long-range maritime search and rescue missions,” the company said in a statement. Stormy weather and the shorter ranges available to manned aircraft often prevent them from being able to get to where they need, but the drones can fly continuously day and night with the pilots being able to work shifts from their ground station.
The four life rafts that can be dropped from its wings each hold six people, and the drone can use its onboard maritime radar and additional electronics to find survivors, provide visual identification and do the rapid calculations needed to drop the payloads on target at a safe distance from the survivors. The life rafts inflate on the way down and finish inflating upon landing.
The next time stormy seas and gale force winds prevent rescue ships and planes from reaching a disaster site, it could be that an Israeli drone will save the day.
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