Israeli defense firm Elbit secures $153 million drone deal with Asian country

Contract with unnamed state offers multi-layered UAV system, including over 1,000 miniature reconnaissance vehicles

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

An IDF soldier with a Skylark drone during a drill at the Tzelim army base, August 5, 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
An IDF soldier with a Skylark drone during a drill at the Tzelim army base, August 5, 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel defense firm Elbit has secured a drone deal with an Asian country worth approximately $153 million, the company said on Sunday.

The contract will comprise a networked, multi-layer drone system, with aerial vehicles of varying sizes and capabilities, and will be delivered to the unnamed southeast Asia country over a 22-month period.

The materiel will include over 1,000 of Elbit’s THOR mini-drones, which look like consumer rotor drones and are meant to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance operations. The unmanned aircraft can fly at altitudes of 2,000 feet and at 65 kilometers per hour (40 mph).

It will also include dozens of Skylark drones, small aircraft launched and operated by a team of two that are widely used by the Israel Defense Forces. The Sky Rider, as it is known in Hebrew, is a tactical surveillance drone operated by the Artillery Corps that provides a live video feed to soldiers on the ground.

They occasionally crash owing to their size and simple design.

Lastly, the order includes the Hermes 450, an advanced medium-sized long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle.

An Israeli-built Elbit Systems Hermes 450 unmanned aircraft is towed out of a hangar at the Hillsboro, North Dakota airport, where it was being used to collect agricultural data, May 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Dave Kolpack)

The Hermes is used primarily for reconnaissance and surveillance missions, but there is an attack version which can be armed with air-to-surface munitions. The company did not say which version was included in the most recent deal, or how many of the Hermes drones were to be delivered.

“This contract award underlines our competitive edge as armies increasingly view multi-layered [unmanned aircraft system] solutions as key to providing superior intelligence while maintaining a high level of operational flexibility,” Elbit’s CEO, Bezhalel Machlis, said in a statement.

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