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.


 U-Tacs 445

 © 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.

Source: Flight International