SAF now able to deploy new, more advanced H-450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will now be able to deploy a more advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for reconnaissance and to gather intelligence.

The Hermes 450 (H-450) is the SAF's most advanced fully operational UAV yet, and is ready to be sent out for missions. It will complement the SAF's older Searcher UAV.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the H-450's full operational capability status at Murai Camp yesterday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen called it a "significant milestone" in the SAF's transformation into a modern and effective fighting force.

He said: "Compared to the older UAVs, the Hermes 450 enhances our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities with its extended endurance, advanced avionics and more capable sensors."

The H-450 is able to fly for about 14 hours, against about eight hours for the Searcher.

It requires just two crew members to operate, compared to three for the Searcher.

And it is able to operate on autopilot, freeing up the pilots to focus on the mission at hand.

The H-450 will be operated by the 116 Squadron, and was delivered to the SAF in 2007. It was manufactured by Elbit Systems, an Israel-based defence electronics company.

Lieutenant-Colonel Timothy Ang, commanding officer of the 116 SQN, said the Hermes 450 would be used as an "eye in the sky", providing real-time updates to ground troops and designating targets for fighter aircraft.

Air Force engineer ME2 Kalaiarasan Moorthy, who previously worked on the Searcher UAV, said the Hermes system is more efficient despite being more complex than the Searcher system.

"It has a built-in self-test system, so pre-flight checks can be done in a shorter amount of time, resulting in 40 per cent time savings," he said.

isaacneo@sph.com.sg