HERMES 900 STARLINER (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     10th November 2023        
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Context: India has recently decided to acquire additional Israeli medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles in light of the tense situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, further bolstering the Indian Army's surveillance capabilities along the northern borders.

Hermes 900 Starliner

  • About: This is an Israeli-manufactured medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and serves as the larger variant of the Hermes 900. Here are its key features:
  • Size: It boasts a substantial wingspan of 17 meters.
  • Weight: Remarkable 1,600 kilograms.
  • The UAV can reach a service ceiling of 30,000 feet and maintain flight for up to 36 hours, ensuring extended missions.
  • ATOL Capability: Automatic take-off and landing (ATOL) capability allows it to operate in near-zero visibility conditions, enhancing its versatility.
  • Icing Condition Safety: Equipped with an active de-icing system to ensure safe operation in icing conditions by removing ice from critical surfaces.
  • Payload Versatility: It can carry various multi-sensor payloads weighing up to 450 kilograms, making it suitable for multiple applications.
  • Real-time Imaging and Surveillance: Onboard imaging sensors capture real-time imagery and video, enabling wide-area persistent surveillance during both day and night.
  • Advanced Radar Systems: It is equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for detailed imaging.
  • Features a ground-moving target indicator (GMTI) radar for target tracking.
  • Includes a maritime patrol radar for detection, location, and target acquisition.

Line of Actual Control (LAC)

  • About: The LAC is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory known as Mc Mohan Line.
  • Three Areas:

o Western (Ladakh, Kashmir),

o Middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and

o Eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal).

  • As LAC is not fully and officially demarcated, it has led to differing perceptions regarding the alignment, with China making territorial claims in the following areas.