Eight years after it was delivered to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the Hermes 450 (H-450) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is now fully operational, following the completion of testing and training of the crew.
The H-450 will be operated by 116 Squadron at Murai Camp. It will complement the older Searcher UAV, which was introduced in 1998, in providing battlefield surveillance from the sky.
Compared with the Searcher UAV, the H-450 is able to fly higher, faster and longer. It has a cruising speed of 70 knots, a maximum altitude of 16,000ft and can stay more than 14 hours in the air. It requires two people to operate and is able to fly on autopilot. It is also equipped to transmit real-time imagery back to Earth while in the air.
In comparison, the Searcher UAV, which requires three people to operate, is able to cruise at a speed of 65 knots, reach up to 15,000 ft and last eight hours in the air.
Apart from the H-450 and Searcher UAV, the SAF has acquired the Heron 1 UAV, which was inaugurated into 119 Squadron in May 2012. The Heron 1 UAV, which can fly up to 20,000 ft and has a flight endurance of more than 24 hours, is not yet fully operational.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday said his ministry has made significant investments in the research and development of UAV systems over the years with the DSO National Laboratories and the Defence Science and Technology Agency.
Noting that UAVs have become a critical asset to many military operations, Dr Ng added: “The achievement of full operational capability for the Hermes 450 UAV today is another significant milestone in the SAF’s transformation into a modern and effective fighting force.”