Switzerland's arms procurement agency, armasuisse, announced on April 29 that the Swiss Air Force has taken delivery of the first two Elbit Hermes 900 HFE UAVs of the Aufklärungsdrohnensystems (ADS 15 – Reconnaissance Drone System) at Emmen Air Base, Switzerland.
The two UAVs, along with two ground control stations, arrived at Emmen in two consignments, on April 21 and April 26, after being transport by sea and land from Israel.
They will now undergo flight testing in the coming months before being handed over to the Swiss Air Force later this year. Technicians from Elbit Systems have already assembly the first UAV, serial number D-11, which will undergo functional checks by the manufacturer before being handed over to armasuisse for further flight testing. The second UAV, serial number D-14, was due to follow a few days later. The first flight in Switzerland was anticipated in mid-2022, following runway taxi trials at Emmen. Once Military Aviation Authority approval has been granted, they will be handed over to the Swiss Air Force in the second half of this year. The remaining four air vehicles of the six on order will follow by the end of 2023.
The first Hermes 900, D-11, had originally been delivered to Switzerland on November 26, 2019, but was then returned to Elbit when the programme was delayed by various problems. These included the pre-delivery total loss of one of the UAVs in the Israeli desert during a test flight on August 5, 2020. The type is replacing the RUAG ADS 95 Ranger UAS, which was retired from Swiss service at the end of November 2019. The ADS 15 is planned for a service life of 20 years.