UK Watchkeeper drones have taken their first flights in Israel in August 2009. They will be tested in Wales towards the end of 2009. The Watchkeeper project will provide the UK with its own drone system, created from technology purchased from an consortium of Israel’s Elbit Systems, and Thales of France. The Watchkeeper is based on the Hermes 450, an Israeli drone believed to have seen wide service in the surveillance of the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza.
The Watchkeeper project is an 800 million pound sterling effort to provide the UK with an independent drone capacity. It purchased the Hermes technology because it already flys Hermes drones purchased from Israel, and (presumably) because Israel’s armed systems come with a record of performance in the occupation, surveillance and control of the occupied territories.