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An Advanced Military Drone of the Philippine Air Force Has Crashed in Mindanao

It was a high-endurance drone developed by Israel.
IMAGE ELBIT SYSTEMS

In August 2020, Philippine Air Force received the full delivery of nine Hermes 900 and one Hermes 450 unmanned aerial systems (UAS) from Israel as part of a contract worth approximately $175 million or P9.145 billion. Less than two years later, one of the nine Hermes 900 drones crashed. Each Hermes 900 drone costs approximately P1 billion each

The Hermes 900 drone from Israel has crashed in Mindanao. It took off for a functional check flight in Cagayan de Oro and crash-landed near Ultra Winds Mountain Resort, a popular resort in Baungon, Bukidnon. The military reported no casualties. In aviation jargon, a ‘functional check flight” is a non-revenue flight done to check or test the correct functions of certain aircraft systems.

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“Upon takeoff, the UAV proceeded to [five nautical miles] east of Lumbia and ascended to 10,000 ft. After finding the procedure to be satisfactory, the pilots declared the termination of the test and started to descend 5000 ft 1.5 miles east of Lumbia Airport,” the Philippine Air Force said.

“At around 11:46 a.m, communications with the UAV were cut. All emergency procedures were performed and Field Service Representatives were called for troubleshooting.”

According to the Philippine Air Force, it will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the crash. 

The Philippine Air Force has already grounded the remaining eight Hermes 900 drones developed and built by Israel's Elbit Systems as investigations into the cause of the crash are underway.

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What is the Hermes 900 Drone?

Hermes 900 is a next-generation, multi-role, medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle. Hermes 900 also can perform ground support and maritime patrol missions, and offers the capability for integrated multi-platform, multi-sensor operation. 

It has the potential to be used as an over-the-horizon missile guidance system to significantly extend the range of ground-based missiles. It can fly up to 30,000 feet for 36 hours. 

The Hermes 900 is also capable of performing missions for area dominance, persistent intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR). 

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