Aerosystems International (AeI) has joined Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems' team bidding for the UK Watchkeeper unmanned air vehicle (UAV) programme.

AeI - a 50:50 joint venture between BAE Systems and GKN Aerospace - will provide systems engineering and integration.

Work has started on the software and design of a software integration facility (SIF). AeIsays the SIF will be used to bring together the Watchkeeper systems' software components and integrate them. The company says it will "provide the 'glue' that allows the end user to operate the off-the-shelf software packages as a unified whole".

If Lockheed Martin is selected as one of the two system integration assessment phase (SIAP) competitors, AeI will build the SIF at its Yeovil headquarters.

Lockheed Martin has also confirmed it has selected the EADS Eagle to meet the medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV requirement (Flight International, 25 June-1 July).

Watchkeeper is to provide intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance at battle group, brigade and divisional level. It will consist of UAVs and a system for distributing and exploiting the intelligence. The UK is seeking a 2005 initial operational capability.

BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and Thales are also bidding for Watchkeeper, which the MoD expects to be worth more than £500 million ($775 million). A downselect to two teams is due by the end of next month, with a final decision next year.

Source: Flight International