RIO DE JANEIRO, June 15 (UPI) -- Israeli defense electronics major Elbit Systems has signed contracts to supply Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft systems to an unnamed Latin American country.
Elbit's contract for an undisclosed amount follows reports that Israeli defense manufacturers were intensifying marketing campaigns in Central and South America, where military spending continues at a significant pace despite recent cutbacks.
The most important of the defense expenditure cuts began in Brazil after President Dilma Rousseff assumed office in January 2011, succeeding Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who announced an ambitious military regeneration program in 2009.
Most of Lula's plans remain intact under Rousseff's regime but Brazilian intentions regarding a multibillion-dollar acquisition of advanced fighter jets remain unknown. Boeing, France's Dassault Aviation and Sweden's Saab are in the race to win the Brazilian contract for the delivery of more than 30 fighter jets.
Argentina and Chile have also indicated they'll be buying more military equipment but both are constrained by cash constraints or funding cutbacks.
The Brazilian military modernization plan calls for a vast network of aerial monitoring of sea and Amazonian jungle borders for illegal immigration, narcotics smuggling and potential sabotage of offshore petrochemical resources.
The multipurpose unmanned aircraft systems are deployed on a variety of defense roles across the world.
The Israeli manufacturer said the contract amount for the Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft systems "is not in an amount that is material to Elbit Systems."
The UAS will also include complementary ground control stations, as well as Elbit Systems Electro-optics -- Elop Ltd.'s advanced DCoMPASS payload systems and radar systems.
The Hermes 900 builds on the vast operational experience of the Hermes 450, the backbone of the Israel military's UAS fleet. Hermes 900 offers a range of enhanced capabilities, from higher flight altitude of more than 30,000 feet to longer endurance and larger payload capacity.
The system's multipurpose payload bay enables it to carry a wide variety of payloads in different shapes and sizes for quick "conversion" between various payload configurations, the company said.
The common unified ground control station and the shared software architecture and training programs allow the Hermes 900 to offer seamless integration for existing Hermes 450 users, enhancing operational flexibility and cost effectiveness.
Elbit Systems Chief Executive Officer Joseph Ackerman called the Hermes 900 selection a "milestone in our UAS activity, following the (Israeli military's) Hermes 900 order."
Ackerman said the selection of the system in the Latin American deal "attests to the customer's trust in our cutting edge UAS technology and further strengthens our position as a world leading UAS supplier. We hope that other international customers will follow in selecting the Hermes 900 as their preferred solution."
Elbit Systems Ltd. is an international defense electronics company engaged in a wide range of programs throughout the world. The company operates in the areas of aerospace, land and naval systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, unmanned aircraft systems, advanced electro-optics, electro-optic space systems, EW suites, airborne warning systems, ELINT systems, data links and military communications systems and radios.
The company has headquarters in Haifa, Israel, and employs 11,000 people worldwide.