Thales is hoping that its offer of the Watchkeeper tactical unmanned air system could take off with the French army, with the company exhibiting a full-size model of the reconnaissance asset sporting the service's markings.
Developed for the British Army from the Elbit Systems Hermes 450, the Watchkeeper carries an electro-optical/infrared sensor turret and Thales's I-Master synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indication payload.
Sales pitch: Thales eyes French contract
First flown in the UK in 2010, the Watchkeeper system has yet to enter operational service with the British Army. French interest in the equipment has already prompted several of its army personnel to undergo classroom-based training on the type in the UK.
Several manufacturers are eyeing a pending French army requirement to replace the service's Sagem Sperwer systems. This could begin to gain momentum after the planned publication of a new Military Planning Law in September 2013, which will outline the nation's spending priorities.
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