Watchkeeper still not introduced

Britain’s Watchkeeper drone still hasn’t been deployed, now more than two and a half years overdue. The surveillance drone system, purchased from Elbit Systems of Israel and Thales of France, has been plagued by delays.

Delays have been blamed on the fact that the drone hasn’t achieve certification to operate in civilian airspace, but it isn’t clear why a military drone first intended for use in remote parts of Afghanistan needs to be certified for civilian airspace. Something smells, but Britain’s press doesn’t seem inclined to make deeper enquiries about this troubled billion pound quagmire.

Much was made last year about France’s decision to study the Watchkeeper, with an eye to buying it for France. The decision smacked of doing a favour to the French arms company Thales, and the defence partner UK MOD. It would be very surprising indeed if the French acquired Watchkeeper drones, but in the bizarre world of the arms trade, nothing can be discounted.

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