The Swiss Air Force inaugurates a new fleet of Hermes Starliner Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The six Unmanned Aircraft Systems will be based out of Emmen Air Base near the city of Lucerne and the fleet will be fully operational by the end of 2023. The Starliner is the first UAS in the world, certified to fly in an unsegregated civilian airspace. Switzerland bought the six UAVs, known in Switzerland as ADS-15, in a deal worth some $290 million in 2015 to replace the Ranger ADS-95 that were decommissioned after 20 years of service. Though the systems will be mainly used for situation and target intelligence gathering.
The Jerusalem Post’s report that the first 12 drone pilots trained in Israel near Masada in December of last year. In April, the first two platforms along with ground control systems were delivered. The Swiss military carried out its first successful flight test of the drone in June. Additional harsh-weather winter condition tests will take place in northern Canada later this year. The system was certified in February to be able to fly in civilian airspace, a key requirement placed on Elbit by Bern. In order to meet certification standards, Elbit Systems had to install a host of civil aviation technological capabilities on the Hermes Starliner Unmanned Aircraft System.
The Starliner has a wingspan of 17 meters (56 feet), and weighs 1.6 tons. The unarmed reconnaissance system can carry an additional 450 kg of electro-optical, thermal, radar and other payloads should additional ones be required. It has a maximum flight capability of 24 hours of continuous flight at a maximum speed of 260 kph (162 mph). The drones were purchased not only for future conflicts, but also for reconnaissance that would support ground forces and border forces including dealing with illegal infiltrations into the country. Hermes Starliner draws on the strong legacy of the Hermes UAS family and incorporates the most advanced aviation technologies.
In order to meet certification standards, Elbit Systems had to install a host of civil aviation technological capabilities on the Hermes Starliner UAV, including a terrain avoidance warning system; automatic take-off and landing in harsh visibility; redundant avionics, sensors and satellite data links; plus adverse weather capabilities and direct lightning strike sustainment. The approval to fly in any civilian airspace, including in populated areas, allows governments and organizations to use the system in various missions such as border security, anti-terrorism operations, securing mass public events, maritime search and rescue and more.