There are rumours that the French government may choose the Watchkeeper drone to add to its air force, in a plan that would also see the French acquiring American off-the-shelf Predator drones.
The British Watchkeeper drone programme was implemented by a French Israeli consortium, UTacS. It is based on the Israeli Hermes 450 drone, ‘combat tested’ and bathed in blood from the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Thales, the French partner of the consortium has had trouble meeting the deadline for production of the drones, and the Watchkeeper is many months overdue.
If the French purchased Watchkeeper, it could be many months before any could be delivered, which would leave them without a satisfactory drone. The UK however, will be anxious to sell the French a made in England drone programme, that up till now has under performed. The original plan for the Watchkeeper programme was promoted on the basis of its export potential, but Watchkeeper has been left in the dust by other developments, including the continued sales of the Herme 450 prototype by the Israeli arms company. With few export possibilities for the Watchkeeper, the UK will be putting heavy pressure on the few markets that it has a chance, especially France.
All this should be taken with a large grain of salt, however, until an announcement is actually made.