The Watchkeeper drone programme has made Thales the French arms company the largest UAV company in Europe. It probably made Elbit, its coventurer, the largest UAV company in Israel. Both companies did extremely well from the UK taxpayer funded project. Indeed, the chairman of Elbit recently complained about the negative effect on the bottom line of the winding down of Elbit’s portion of the Watchkeeper programme. In a company as large as Elbit, that is a clear indication of the transfer of profits to the Israeli company.
Watchkeeper was ‘sold’ the British public on the basis that there would be a high potential for export sales. However it would appear that considerable more development work will have to be done to make sales to other countries like France or Spain, due to differences in the command and control structures of the various armies.