The Philippine Air Force is acquiring four Elbit Systems Hermes 900 Kochav (Star) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) under the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program Second Horizon, this was confirmed by defense observer and analyst MaxDefense Philippines in an article dated August 8.
Hermes 900 is a next-generation multi-role medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial system (UAS). It is capable of performing missions for area dominance and persistent intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance also known as ISTAR, Elbit said.
Hermes 900 has a max speed of 220 km/h, cruise speed: 112 km/h, 36 hours endurance, and service ceiling of 9,100 m (30,000 ft).
MaxDefense said the project named as PAF Unmanned Aerial Vehicle acquisition has an approved budget for contract (ABC) worth PHP8.47 billion.
“Four UAVs are to be acquired under Horizon 2 phase, and it appears that based on the quantity and ABC, each complete set of Hermes 900 including the undetermined sensors package, integrated logistics support (ILS), training, support equipment and other ancillaries will cost around Php 2.12 billion (US$41.93 million) each,” MaxDefense said.
It added that the acquisition will be through government-to-government contract with Israel, which means no bidding will be conducted.
Elbit conducted a demonstration of Hermes 900 in July.
“Based on latest information, the approval from the Secretary of National Defense was only made on the 3rd week of July 2017, and was submitted for approval by President Duterte on the same week,” MaxDefense added.
On July 24, during the press conference after delivering his SONA speech, President Duterte said he will be acquiring drones.
“I will buy drones, ‘yung high altitude. Na kung mag patrol ang Army or the police, they will have to spend time almost half the day studying the… what is below, by drones,” he said.
“Bibili ako ng marami, ‘yung hindi na nila mabaril. ‘Yung sa mga Marawi, ang ginamit amateur lang man ‘yun. ‘Yun ang gawin ko. I will prepare my Armed Forces on war footing. Kasi may giyera eh [against terrorists],” he added.