Thales is stating that the delayed Watchkeeper drone will eventually be ready for deployment in Afghanistan in 2012. These high priced drones, based on the Israeli Hermes 450 drone, are still being tested and ‘flight’ crews trained.
Thales is also promoting an armed Watchkeeper type drone at the big London arms bazaar, DSEi. Thales makes missile capable of being used on Watchkeeper, though the UK has not committed itself to an armed Watchkeeper.
The UK has been renting Hermes 450 drones for use in Afghanistan. Given that the Hermes 450 drones, (which have been field tested by the Israelis in repressing their Palestinian population), seem to have performed adequately in Afghanistan, one wonders if the billion pound Watchkeeper will provide a billion pounds of value to British forces.