The effect of Watchkeeper programme delays depends on the perspective of the observer.
In part because of the delays in the Watchkeeper programme, the UK was forced to use outdated technology in its recent attacks on Libya.
Delays have another impact as well on the cost benefit of the programme. It has been reported that by late 2012 only six of the Watchkeeper drones will be deployed. It is uncertain when the remainder of the fleet of 54 will be delivered. But in evaluating the value of the programme to taxpayers, it is only fair that the value be discounted for the time that the UK didn’t have access to the drone. Already extremely expensive at nearly £20 million each, the value of the the drone to the taxpayer should be discounted substantially, meaning the real cost should be considered to be much higher, since most of the funds have already been dispersed, while the the product has yet to be produced.
The absence of the drone will soon begin to degrade Britain’s ability to fight aggressive wars in foreign countries. Given the destruction of international law and lack of meaningful results from previous interventions, this probably isn’t a bad thing.