Swiss evaluating Israeli UAVs

BERNE, Switzerland,  The Swiss military is preparing to evaluate two reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles prior to awarding a contract for UAV production.

The systems to be tested later this year are the Hermes 900 from Israel’s Elbit Systems and the Heron 1 manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries.

Armasuisse, the Swiss defense procurement agency, said the aircraft are the only two candidates for a production contract remaining from an initial field of 11 aircraft put forward by various manufacturers.

Testing of the unmanned aircraft will be conducted by Armasuisse specialists and Swiss air force personnel.

The contract is expected to be awarded in 2014.

Switzerland’s land forces currently operate a reconnaissance drone for border security but after 12 years in service the system is reaching the end of its service life, the agency said. The new system to be acquired would be operated by the air force under the military’s 2015 armaments budget.