Feeds

Blighty's first home grown war robot takes to Welsh skies!

Pigs may not fly, but pork barrels can

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The UK tentacle of French arms giant Thales is delighted today to announce that its new "Watchkeeper" drone aircraft for the British Army has made its first flight in UK airspace. The machine first flew in 2008, above Israel, where the Hermes 450 it is based on is made.

The Watchkeeper makes its first UK flight. credit: Thales UK

A slight £12m+ markup, but each one comes with 38 free arms workers!

“This is a momentous accomplishment in the Watchkeeper programme and just one of a number of flight trials scheduled over the coming months," enthused Alex Dorrian, Thales' UK chief.

"This milestone reflects the years of hard work by Thales UK, the MoD and other parties since the contract was signed,” he added.

The 20-minute Watchkeeper flight took place yesterday at the new ParcAberporth drone-drome in Wales, operated by controversial MoD selloff bonanza firm Qinetiq, which it is hoped will become a huge economic boon for Wales as the UK robocraft business booms in future. For now though, the main job it has is testing Watchkeeper.

The Watchkeeper itself is a modification of the Hermes 450 craft from Elbit of Israel, which the British Army is already using in Afghanistan under a lease deal with Elbit and Thales. Watchkeeper is superior to a basic Hermes 450, however, as it carries a ground-moving-target-indicator radar (developed with the help of Thales' French operations) in addition to its electro-optical spyeye package.

The plan is for the British Watchkeepers and their engines to be made (or assembled, anyway) in Blighty. The aircraft will be put together at a company in Leicester called U-TacS, 51 per cent owned by Elbit - thus, Israeli-controlled. The UK engine-making factory will be fully Israeli-owned.

Apart from Thales' I-MASTER Franco-UK radar, various other European components will replace the ones used by Israel in the Hermes 450. This process is described by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Thales as essentially endowing Britain with a new unmanned-aircraft manufacturing base boasting 2000+ well-paid, skilled British jobs. This is the main reason why it is taking years and costing hundreds of millions to field a fairly ordinary radar+EO surveillance aircraft.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.