Drone manufacturer Elbit Systems has announced it has won a contract to supply an Asian country with its Hermes 900 drones. The contract is worth a huge $300 million and will see drones delivered to the unnamed country over the next five years.

The contract will allow the country to receive the drones themselves, the related subsystems required to fly them, and maintenance and support services to ensure the drones stay airworthy.

While it isn’t clear which Asian country it is exactly, we know it has been working with the Philippines, delivering three Hermes 900s and 450s last year. The company also has its drones deployed in 11 other countries, including Switzerland, Columbia, Chile, and Canada.

Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, Elbit Systems president & CEO, shared:

“There is a continuous demand for integrating unmanned systems to cope with a growing variety of operational needs. Our operational portfolio of autonomous capabilities, in all domains of operation, positions us competitively to address these needs.”

Canada’s use for the drone is a little different that what first comes to mind when talking about these drones. The country will use the drone to monitor the endangered whale population along the east and west coasts of the country and the Arctic as a part of the Canadian National Aerial Surveillance Program.

The North Atlantic right whale is at the center of the drone purchase, as there is currently an estimated fewer than 366 in the North Atlantic. Scientists already think it is extinct in the eastern section of the Atlantic.

The whales can get up to 14 m (46 ft) in length and weigh up to 70,000 kg (77 tons). Whaling has always been a problem when it comes to the North Atlantic right whale. Due to its slow speed and buoyancy after death, it made for an easy job that didn’t require the whale to be brought back on the whaling ship.

Elbit Hermes 900

The Elbit Hermes 900 is the latest drone from the company, being introduced back in 2012. It requires a two-person ground team and can last for up to 36 hours on a single tank. It uses a Rotax 914 turbo-charged four-stroke engine, which produces 115 hp.

The Hermes 900 has a top speed of 140 mph, cruises at around 70 mph, and can fly at altitudes up to 30,000 ft. The drone is currently in use by a wide range of countries, including Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the European Union, Iceland, Mexico, the Philippines, Switzerland, and Israel.

Photo: Elbit Systems

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