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Watchkeeper system may lead to more Thales-Elbit cooperation

Thales UK expects to secure its first export orders for the British Army's Watchkeeper unmanned air vehicle system from 2009, and is also eyeing ways of expanding its co-operation with Israeli programme partner Elbit Systems on further defence initiatives.

To enter service in 2010, the £700 million ($1.41 billion) Watchkeeper tactical UAV system will be delivered by Thales/Elbit joint venture company Utacs, which will deliver equipment including air vehicles developed from the Israeli company's 450kg (990lb) Hermes 450.


 © Thales UK

U-Tacs  is targeting Watchkeeper exports

"The joint venture is now well established, and we have started to transfer technology," says Thales UK vice-president sales and marketing Victor Chavez. "While it is not part of the formal agreement, we continue to work with them and are looking at a whole range of areas." However, Chavez says this does not currently include linking up on further unmanned platforms.

Elbit is also promoting the modified Watchkeeper UAV - a critical design review for which took place during May - on the export market as the Hermes 450B.

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