Posts Tagged Elbit
Elbit Systems President Joseph Ackerman has described an important element of his company’s focus will be a ‘wide area persistent surveillance solution’ (WAAPS) a seamlessly integrated system of various sensors that allow a combat force to dominate a defined area. Apparently WAAPS would be focussed around Elbit Systems Hermes 900 drone or equivalent aircraft. WAAPS might involve as many as 25 airborne cameras, and remotely operated ground stations.
WAAPS would compete with the American WAAS system associated with the Predator drone, using about nine cameras and currently being used in Afghanistan.
WAAPS represents the explosion of surveillance systems associated with the development of the drones industry. Elbit Systems has been involved in providing surveillance systems used on Israel’s separation wall.
Although the UK MOD has previously stated that it has no plans to arm the Watchkeeper MALE drones scheduled to enter service in the next few months, there is pressure from various sources to add arms to the new drone.
Certainly there is a precedent, because it is widely believed that the Israeli Hermes 450 drone, on which Watchkeeper is based, is armed with missiles and has be used to attack Palestinian positions in Gaza.
There are elements in the UK MOD which are pursuing the option of arming Watchkeeper. Major Matt Moore, an MOD official overseeing the fielding of Watchkeeper in Afghanistan has stated that MOD is considering proposals to arm Watchkeeper with a ‘low collateral damage’ missile. And certainly Thales, the co-contractor of the Watchkeeper system, has made no secret of its wish to arm the Watchkeepers with LMM missiles manufactured by Thales. The LMM was developed in Thales’ Belfast facility.
Military.com has reported that Thales and BAE have considered arming BAE’s Fury UAVs with Thales Javelin missiles. Fury is based on the Herti drone, which has seen deployment in Afghanistan.
Furthermore, there is a programme to arm the BAE Mantis drone, according to military.com.
The UK military already has armed Predator drones which it acquired from the US and which are deployed in Afghanistan.
No doubt Watchkeeper will be introduced without arms to reduce public scrutiny of the controversial weapon, which was late, overpriced, and widely believed to be a poor deal for Britain. At a time when drone assassinations are under increasing public scrutiny, adding weapons to a drone that was sold to the public as a surveillance tool will not be popular.
CND activists from Leicester protested at the Thales arms manufacturing site in Leicester. The plant produces components for the beleagured Watchkeeper drone. The Watchkeeper drone is overdue and is being monitored by the UK government.
Updates to follow.
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.
Thales, of France, says it has a number of Hermes 45o drones to sell or rent, after they come back from Afghanistan. Drones operated by Thales are used by the UK in Afghanistan, and will (in theory) be replaced by the delayed Watchkeeper drone. Hermes 450’s are produced by Elbit of Israel, and are managed by Thales probably because as an Israeli company Elbit would have difficulty operating in Afghanistan or Middle Eastern countries.
Shephard News points out that this may pose a problem for Thales, since flogging the used Hermes 450s from Afghanistan would put it in direct competition with its business partner Elbit, which is continuing to market Hermes 450 drones, as well as turn key factories for producing Hermes drones in other countries.
Watchkeeper was promoted as an exportable product for the UK, but a glut of used Hermes 450 drones would probably exacerbate the dim prospects for Watchkeeper as a UK export.
Israel has had a burgeoning arms industry. The three biggest Israeli arms companies IAI, Elbit Systems, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, had orders backlogs in 2010 of $16 billion. 100,000 Israelis work in an industry that sold $7.2 billion in arms in 2010.
The World Tribune online, reports that Midroog, the Israeli credit rating industry says that international trends present challenges for the Israeli arms industry. 70% of Israelis arm production is exported.
Moog worries that with the end of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that orders for Israeli arms will be dropped. And that the US is encouraging US arms companies to develop new markets, in competition with Israeli companies.
(This blog post will be expanded……)
University of Bristol engineering students have toured facilities of Thales, the coventurer of the Watchkeeper programme.
As well as promoting their company to prospective young engineers, the tours have a ‘bloodwash’ component, allowing Thales to promote its arms manufacturing venture as a normal manufacturing enterprise.
Thales, which is partnered with Elbit Systems of Israel in the Watchkeeper Programme, is a major French based arms manufacturer.
Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest arms company and provides drones, and security systems, which are used by the Israeli armed forces, including those involved in the occupation of Palestine and the maintenance of the separation wall that imposes a de facto apartheid on the people of Palestine.