Elbit Systems performed the first test flight of a prototype WK450 unmanned air vehicle for the British Army's Watchkeeper programme on 16 April, two days later than scheduled. "The flight was successful," says a source related to the programme.

Conducted from Megido airfield in northern Israel, the 25min sortie was witnessed by representatives from the UK Ministry of Defence and Watchkeeper prime contractor Thales UK, both of which have declined to comment further or release images of the milestone.

Incorporating configuration and payload changes from Elbit's baseline Hermes 450 tactical UAV, the WK450 system (artist's impression of UK UAV pictured below) is due to enter UK service from 2010. Interim army use of the Hermes 450 in Afghanistan and Iraq recently passed the 7,000 flight hour mark.

© Thales UK

Source: Flight International