An Elbit Hermes 900 UAV operated by the Chilean Air Force crashed in to the Cautín River in the region of Araucania, some 600km south of the country’s capital, Santiago, on February 13, 2023. The cause of the crash is currently unknown.
The Israeli-made drone was flying a mission in support of the Chilean forestry agency, Corporación Nacional Forestal Chilena (CONAF), monitoring forest fires in Southern Chile.
The crash reportedly occurred when the unmanned aircraft was on its way back to Maquehue air base, near the city of Temuco.
Footage of the crashed drone grounded in the shallows of the fast-flowing Cautín River have appeared on social media.
Drones like the Hermes 900 can support firefighting missions thanks to their long endurance and the use of powerful infrared cameras, sensors and other surveillance equipment carried onboard.
Chile is currently suffering a wave of forest fires that have left at least 26 dead, hundreds of houses destroyed and hundreds of thousands of hectares devastated.
Several countries, such as Mexico, Portugal and Spain, the latter of which sent an Airbus A330 with a military firefighting unit onboard, have joined the efforts to combat the fires.