Feeds

Blighty's expensive Watchkeeper spy-drone in further delays

Extra bonuses: It's unarmed and needs Israeli support

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The troubled, extremely expensive Watchkeeper project intended to supply unmanned surveillance aircraft to the Royal Artillery has hit further technical delays. The first robot spyplanes should have been delivered in February - eight months later than the original contract called for - but they will now arrive "toward year's end".

The Watchkeeper in Israel, where most of the tests thus far have taken place. Credit: Thales

Gets off the ground by burning money

Aviation Week reports on the new slippage in Watchkeeper's delivery date, which was revealed by executives from contractor Thales during a discussion of the company's 2010 performance.

According to Av Week the Thales execs claimed that the new difficulties had previously been revealed "in a report issued by Britain’s National Audit Office and have now been resolved".

However, the last NAO report to mention Watchkeeper, the 2010 Defence Major Projects Report issued last October, lists the Watchkeeper's in-service date as February 2011 - noting that this represents a further two-month day from the previous year's forecast (when the project began in 2005 it was planned that the first aircraft would be delivered last June).

According to the NAO, the Watchkeeper problems result from "technical difficulties". The audit office noted that almost every area of the project seemed to be in trouble, saying "the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle has the most lines of development assessed as ‘At risk’ (six, with only Doctrine and Organisation assessed as ‘To be met’)".

Watchkeeper is currently forecast to cost the Ministry of Defence £889m for 54 aircraft, putting each aircraft at £16.5m or approximately $27m at today's rates. It is based on the Israeli Hermes 450 unmanned aircraft which is already in service with the British Army in Afghanistan under a lease arrangement pending Watchkeeper's arrival. Engines and airframes will be assembled in new UK factories (in a part-Israeli-owned joint venture) using licenced Israeli technology and some European components.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.