The British Army's Hermes 450 (H450) unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) have provided over 30,000 hours of support to UK forces in Afghanistan.
The H450 is operated and maintained by 32 Regiment Royal Artillery based at Roberts Barracks, Larkhill, Wiltshire.
H450 is a flexible system that can be used for a wide range of tasks from conducting reconnaissance prior to deployment into an area, and long-term pattern of life studies, to target acquisition and development.
Due to the success and continual demand for the H450, the theatre Unmanned Air Systems Battery will increase its ability to fly simultaneous missions, providing persistent, high-quality, day-and-night-capable full-motion video.
The system provides brigade headquarters with persistent intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) via electro-optical and infrared sensors out to a range of 150km.
The Commander of 42 (Alem Hamza) Battery Royal Artillery said:
We have now achieved 30,000 operational hours of Hermes 450 and the delivery of extra capability in the form of the fifth task line will help to meet the significant number of intelligence requirements that TFH [Task Force Helmand] generates each day.
The capability has been absolutely key to many of the TFH operations. The H450 system is flown from and maintained in Afghanistan. This enables close liaison between flight crews and the end-user that they support.
H450 operators are trained to fly the system tactically, balancing the need to remain covert while getting the best quality imagery.
The end result of this highly capable, reliable and efficiently-operated system is a theatre UAV Battery that produces some 85 per cent of the full-motion video that is available to Task Force Helmand.
32 Regiment Royal Artillery are supported by a number of contractors on deployed operations (CONDOs) who manage the spares system. The system also requires a CONDO external pilot to launch and recover the air vehicle for each mission.
The H450 is supplied by Thales UK under an Urgent Operational Requirement contract.