Aerial Warfare

Colombian Air Force Deploys Hermes 900 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to Border with Ecuador

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Colombian Air Force Deploys Hermes 900 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to Border with Ecuador

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Colombian Air Force Deploys Hermes 900 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to Border with Ecuador
Colombian Air Force Deploys Hermes 900 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to Border with Ecuador

The Colombian Air Force has begun to deploy their Elbit Systems Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to the border with Ecuador due to the Ecuadorian Cartel Crisis. Ecuador is attractive as a shipping point for drugs because the South American country is sandwiched between two top cocaine producers, Colombia and Peru. In a few short years, the experience and muscle of the Mexican cartels has turned Ecuador into the shipment point for almost one-third of the cocaine entering Europe. Gunmen from an Ecuadorian gang believed aligned with Mexico’s Jalisco New Generation cartel took over a television station during a live broadcast and brandished explosives. After the takeover of the TV station, President Daniel Noboa designated 20 drug-trafficking gangs as terrorist groups and authorized the military to “neutralize” them. Coca bush fields in Colombia have also been moving closer to the border with Ecuador due to the breakup of criminal groups after the 2016 demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The Hermes 900 will be deployed out of the Apiay Air Base in the department of Meta. It has an endurance of over 30 hours and can fly at a maximum altitude of 30,000 feet (9,100 m), with a primary mission of reconnaissance, surveillance and communications relay. The Hermes 900 has a wingspan of 15 m (49 ft) and weighs 970 kg (2,140 lb), with a payload capability of 300 kg (660 lb). Payload options include electro-optical/infrared sensors, synthetic-aperture radar/ground-moving target indication, communications and electronic intelligence, electronic warfare, and hyperspectral sensors. In August 2012, Elbit won a multi-million-dollar contract to supply a mixed fleet of Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 unmanned air systems to Colombia. Elbit had previously disclosed only that the contract, to be fulfilled over the next two years, was with a “Latin American” country. On July 2013, the Colombian Aerospace Force confirmed they have one Hermes 900 on order, to be accepted in the coming months.

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