Switzerland to Postpone Final Elbit Hermes 900 Deliveries to 2026

In response to technical setbacks earlier this year and escalating uncertainties in the Middle East, Switzerland’s armasuisse has reached an agreement with Elbit Systems Ltd, the supplier of the ADS 15 drone system, to prolong the delivery timeline until the end of 2026.

The extension comes following a temporary halt in ADS 15 flight operations in Switzerland due to a technical incident in March 2023. In light of incurred costs and delays, negotiations ensued, resulting in Elbit compensating Switzerland for expenses and facing penalties for the disruptions caused. Compounded by the Middle East’s volatile situation and travel restrictions impeding Swiss specialists from conducting necessary tasks in Israel, armasuisse deemed it crucial to grant the supplier an extended timeframe to fulfill contractual obligations. Consequently, an official contract addendum solidified the project’s extension to conclude by the end of 2026, instead of the initial 2024 deadline.

Elbit’s commitments include substantial compensation for the prolonged contract duration and the costs stemming from the spring 2023 incident. An additional support package, valued at a low double-digit million amount, encompasses spare parts and operational materials crucial for the drones’ Swiss operations.

Moreover, the warranty period for all Swiss drones has been extended by two years from the successful contract performance date. Elbit faces substantial penalties for potential service delivery delays, surpassing previously estimated contractual penalties. Adapting to the situation, the delivery of three pending Swiss drones and associated ground control stations, originally planned for this year, has been postponed due to ongoing regional uncertainties.

With the conflict’s evolving nature impacting ADS 15 procurement, Armasuisse and Elbit are collaboratively devising a comprehensive project plan for the upcoming year. Weekly joint project meetings have been scheduled to promptly address any required adjustments or measures necessitated by future developments.

The ADS 15 drones serve as unarmed reconnaissance systems vital for situational awareness, target reconnaissance, and safeguarding critical infrastructures. With capabilities for day-and-night operations, these drones find utility across military and civilian entities, including cantonal command staffs, police, rescue bodies, and the Federal Office for Customs and Border Protection (FOCBS).

The Elbit Systems Hermes 900 Kochav, known for its endurance exceeding 30 hours and maximum altitude of 30,000 feet, stands as a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV designed for tactical missions. Equipped with diverse payload options, including sensors for reconnaissance, communications relay, and electronic warfare, the Hermes 900 series continues the legacy of its widely used predecessor, the Hermes 450.

In June 2014, Switzerland’s procurement agency selected the Hermes 900 to meet the nation’s requirement. The design had been in competition with IAI Heron to replace the RUAG Ranger UAV (ADS 95) of the Swiss Air Force. Planned was to replace the 15 Ruag Rangers with Six Hermes 900 (ADS 15) by 2019.

To fulfill the Swiss requirements, extensive changes at the drone where necessary. Among others it was necessary to change wing and wingspan to carry a heavier engine with more power. In August 2020, a drone crashed during a test flight in Israel, the cause was a structural design flaw which has been fixed.

The new drones should now begin their operation between 2022 and 2023, the “Sense-and-Avoid” – System not before 2024. The Swiss model of the drone is called Hermes 900 StarLiner, also Hermes 900 HFE (Heavy Fuel Engine) in the Swiss program.

Source: Military Leak