Elbit Systems has been selected to supply a new reconnaissance drone system (ADS 15) to the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS).
Delivered under the CHF250m ($279.6m) deal, which still needs final approval from the Swiss Government, the Hermes 900 HFE unnamed aerial system (UAS) will replace the ageing ADS 95 Ranger reconnaissance drone fleet by 2020.
The deal forms part of the 2015 arms procurement programme, and the unarmed Hermes 900 HFE was chosen over the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-built Super Heron UAS as it delivered better overall results in all assessed criteria.
Both unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems were claimed to be the best in meeting the DDPS' requirements during the pre-evaluation process.
An all-weather unarmed reconnaissance drone system, the Hermes 900 HFE system is more flexible, has a wider operational range than the existing Ranger system and can stay airborne for longer.
Combat drones are currently not preferred by the DDPS, which is expected to explain the use of the UAS in the context of the dispatch on procurement, according to the armed forces development programme and the security policy report.
Manufactured by Ruag Aviation, the ADS 95 Ranger is a tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (TUAV) and can execute surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition and damage assessment operations over a large area.
The drone first entered service with the Swiss military in 2001, and 24 are currently operated by the UAV Wing 7, Squadron 7, based at Emmen, IHS Jane's reported.
Image: A Swiss RUAG Ranger reconnaissance UAV, which will be replaced by the new Elbit Hermes 900 HFE. Photo: courtesy of Sandstein.