Posts Tagged Dassault
The long delayed Watchkeeper surveillance drone programme has been barely in the news for months, even as deadlines were missed, and the UK military operations in Afghanistan wind down. But news this week may put it in the spotlight again.
There is a joint summit between Francois Hollande and David Cameron this week at RAF Brize Norton this week.
This is ostensibly to restart the joint defense treaty/arms trade strategy that the two countries negotiated in 2010, which ploughed into quicksand when the Parti Socialiste won the French elections in 2012 and promptly reviewed the arms procurement arrangements made by the Sarkozy government.
Writing in Defense News, Andrew Chuter and Pierre Tran have speculated that the conversation could involve a statement of French interest in the British-Israeli Watchkeeper drone.
Thales, the French arms company, is the prime contractor and partner with Elbit Systems of Israel in the Watchkeeper programme, which has belatedly resulted in a British built drone based on the Israeli Hermes 450. Thales fortunes appeared to rise after the election of the Socialistes, while its rival Dassault appeared to fall.
Thales has been lobbying hard to have the French government buy the Watchkeeper drone, and French operators have flown the drone at Parc Aberporth in Wales. It is also believed that they may fly the drone this summer in Canada, possibly at the UK training base at Suffield Aberta.
Also discussed at the summit may be a proposal to build an armed combat drone, in which France’s Dassault and Britain’s BAE might build the airframe, Thales and Silex the electronics, Rolls Royce and Snecma the engine, according the Chuter and Tran. Proponents want the programme to begin immediately, ostensibly so that the French air force that evaluate how an armed drone would fit into ‘the operational picture’. Though why they couldn’t just use a Predator drone acquired from the US for that purpose isn’t clear.
Both the Dassault-BAE consortium and Thales appear to be playing high pressure, ‘press release’ politics over the Anglo French plan to have a joint drone programme. Earlier in the year the Sarkozy government announced the intention to go with a Dassault BAE programme, leaving the hapless UK Watchkeeper programme in the cold. Thales, the Watchkeeper joint venturer, immediately announced that the Watchkeeper drone would also be studied by the French government. Then, after the election of the Hollande government, the French seemed to back away from the Dassault BAE option. This week, Dassault BAE announced that their proposal was ready to go and simply needed a signature. Whether this means that the French and British are on board, or whether the announcement was simply pressure on both governments by the arms company consortium doesn’t seem clear.
Watchkeeper is a Thales-Elbit Systems joint venture aimed at giving the UK a medium altitude, long endurance drone. Watchkeeper is long overdue, and UK MOD makes excuses for the Franco Israeli effort saying that the delays are because of the need to get certification for civilian air space. But this does not explain why the drone, which is supposed to be far superior to the Hermes 450 drone on which it is based, is not being used in Afghanistan, where civilian certification is not neeeded. Nor does it explain why this supposedly state of the art drone isn’t the hands down favourite for the Anglo French joint drone capability, since its massive development costs are already paid for.
So far it appears that Watchkeeper may have been a billion pound boondoggle that provided a huge cash infusion to the Israeli arms industry at a time when the UK was claiming kudos from not arming the supremicist state after its attack on Gaza in 2009.
‘Disarmingman‘ in his blog Drones War UK has this week about current Anglo French cooperation on drones:
The French drone ‘crisis’
Prime Minister David Cameron will meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy today in Paris for bilateral talks. While the agenda will no doubt be dominated by the Euro crisis, they may well have a quick word about drones too.
Last November the UK and France signed a defence and security cooperation treaty which included a commitment to work together on nuclear issues and armed drones. The two countries have agreed to build a new armed drone and BAE Systems and Dassault have joined together to offer the proposed Telemos drone to fulfil this ‘need’. An announcement on the deal was expended earlier this year and then postponed for 12-18 months.
While today’s meeting was originally supposed to be a full-scale summit between the countries including Defence Ministers and with, according to the Guardian, representatives of BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation also present – it was suddenly announced on Monday that the summit has been postponed until next year with just Cameron and Sarkozy to meet instead.
Dassault et BAE a lancé un nouveau projet pour la conception et la production d’un drone dans la même classe de la “Predator” drone que les États-Unis utilise en Afghanistan.
Cette joint-venture par suite de la décision des deux gouvernements, la France et l’Angleterre, pour acheter de l’armement même de faire des économies.
Cette décision tue le programme Watchkeeper. Le drone Watchkeeper a été créé afin que l’Angleterre peut avoir un système national de drones, un système pour l’exportation.
Cependant, la France a été le marché le plus souhaité pour Watchkeeper. Maintenant, il semble y avoir peu de marchés pour l’entreprise Watchkeeper UAV.
Programme Watchkeeper est un projet superflu. Les dépenses pour le programme Watchkeeper était un gaspillage colossal.