From the 229th to the 17th, we introduced various aviation accidents. And I wrote about unmanned aerial vehicles two times before and last time. This story is a combination of these two flows. The title is “Rescue Unmanned Aerial Vehicle”.

Proposed rescue type of Hermes 900

A rescue aircraft is an aircraft for rescuing the crew and passengers of a crashed airplane. It is a popular aircraft in the field of military aviation, including the Self-Defense Forces. Previously, in the 137th edition of “Military and IT,” I wrote an article introducing rescue helicopters.

I don’t know where the accident will happen, so if the rescue plane “can’t get off without a runway”, it won’t work. Therefore, it is customary to use a helicopter for rescue aircraft. The US-2 Aircraft of the Maritime Self-Defense Force is an exception among the exceptions, because there are many cases of offshore rescue. In the United States and Britain, during World War II, flying boats were used for rescue at sea.

  • Maritime Self-Defense Force US-2 Flying Boat Quote: Maritime Self-Defense Force

    Maritime Self-Defense Force US-2 Flying Boat Quote: Maritime Self-Defense Force

Among those rescues, Israel’s Elbit Systems suggested that we should use an unmanned aerial vehicle for offshore rescue. The company handles a variety of unmanned aerial vehicle products, but among them, it has a Hermes 900 as a so-called MALE UAV (Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), which is large and has a long cruising range.

The Hermes 900 has a total width of 15m and a maximum takeoff weight of 1,180kg. The payload is 350 kg and the cruising time is 30 hours. The appearance is similar to the MQ-9 Reaper clan, but the size of the aircraft is close to the MQ-1 Predator.

  • Elbit Systems' MALE UAV

    Elbit Systems’ MALE UAV “Hermes 900”. Similar to the MQ-9 Reaper clan Quote: Maritime Self-Defense Force

As a variation of the Hermes 900, there is a model called Hermes 900 Maritime equipped with a sensor for maritime patrol. This became a rescue-type base machine (Reference: Hermes 900 Maritime Brocha).

Utilize the function of maritime patrol

The main use of the Maritime Patrol Type Hermes 900 is to monitor ships traveling at sea. Therefore, the following sensor equipment will be installed accordingly.

  • Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
  • Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver
  • Electro-optical / infrared sensor
  • AES210V ESM (Electronic Support Measures) device
  • Skyfix / Skyjam communication interceptor

The existence of ships is detected by SAR, and the identity of each detection target is grasped by AIS. And since AIS is not always set correctly, use electro-optical / infrared sensors for visual confirmation of suspicious ships. If the ship emits radio waves, information will be collected by ESM and communication interception. It’s the same as the Sea Guardian I covered last time and two times before.

Using these sensors, it may be possible to search for victims when a ship sank at sea or an aircraft crashed. I don’t know if even a small person can be detected by SAR, but it will be possible to search by an electro-optical / infrared sensor.

Also, if the victim has a transmitter for positioning, it can be expected that the radio waves emitted from it can be received by ESM. With it, you don’t have to spend extra time rushing to the victim.

Up to this point, it can be realized even with the maritime patrol type, but the reason why we have purposely released a model that claims to be a rescue type is that it is equipped with lifesaving equipment under the wings. In other words, when a victim is found by making full use of the sensors for maritime patrol, the life preserver is immediately dropped on the spot to gain time so that the rescue aircraft or ship can survive until it rushes. That is the operational concept of the rescue type Hermes 900.

No matter how much you say “for rescue”, you can’t take the rescuer to the scene and drop it off because it was originally an unmanned aerial vehicle and no one was on board. It’s just to give the rescue team time to rush. Since it has high navigation accuracy, the drop point can be surely grasped, and information can be transmitted in real time via satellite communication. If the cruising time allows, you can keep an eye on the situation while orbiting the sky until the rescue team arrives.

The Hermes 900 does not have a very large payload, and most of it is taken up by sensor equipment, so the number and amount of life-saving devices that can be loaded does not seem to be significant. Is it at most one on each of the left and right wings? However, if the number of victims is small, this may still be useful.

“Immediately after finding the target …” is similar to the story that the RQ-1 Predator was equipped with the AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missile and “I was able to engage immediately when I found the target.” .. However, the Hermes 900 drops a life-saving device, not a missile.

A precedent called Super Dumbo

If you think about it, there were similar planes in the past. During World War II, the U.S. military used to attach lifeboats to the underside of the fuselage of bombers such as the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-29 Super Fortress. This is to drop a lifeboat if the crew of the aircraft that was shot down is found at sea.

If you can get on a lifeboat for the time being, you have a higher chance of survival than if you were fluffy on the surface of the sea. After that, please do your best until the rescue ship or flying boat arrives. It is said that this kind of bomber for dropping rescue equipment was called “Dumbo” or “Super Dumbo”. I don’t know why it was so named.

  • The B-29 Super Fortress, named Doc after nose art. One of two Super Fortresses that can fly in the world Photo: US Air Force

    The B-29 Super Fortress, named Doc after nose art. One of two Super Fortresses that can fly in the world Photo: US Air Force

Author profile

Takashi Inoue

A technical writer who is developing writing activities mainly in the technical field in various transportation and military fields such as railways and aviation.
After working at Microsoft Corporation, became independent in the spring of 1999. In addition to developing information and communication technology as a starting point, such as “Fighting Computer (V) 3” (Ushioshobokojinsha), he deals with articles in various fields. In addition to Mynavi News, he has also contributed to “Military Research,” “Maru,” “Jwings,” “Koku-Fan,” “Ships of the World,” and “Shinkansen EX.”