Northrop-Grumman and Thales Selected for Watchkeeper Final Phase

Released on Friday, February 7, 2003
United Kingdom
BAe - British Aerospace
FRES - Future Rapid Effect System
UK - United Kingdom
Northrop-Grumman Corporation and Thales Group have been selected by the Ministry of Defense of United Kingdom to continue development of networked Watchkeeper Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle.

Watchkeeper will provide the UK's Armed Forces with a globally deployable capability to deliver intelligence imagery, targeting and exploration to battlefield commanders. The Watchkeeper program has a potential value of £800 million, about $1.2 billion.

The Northrop-Grumman led team is evaluating several unmanned systems to meet the requirements of the Watchkeeper systems architecture, including the US Navy RQ-8A Fire Scout system. BAe Systems has entered discussions to join Northrop-Grumman.

By the other hand, Thales is evaluating platforms derived from Elbit Systems Hermes 180 and 450 Unmanned Air Vehicles.

The Watchkeeper systems will interface seamlessly with other UK systems such as Bowman, ASTOR, FRES and Indirect Fire Systems.

The Ministry of Defense plans call for an Initial Operational Capability in 2006, achieving full operational Capability by 2007-2008 timeframe. Watchkeeper will act as imagery collector, directing this information to divisional, brigade and battle group command levels.


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