Posts Tagged UAV/drones
Thales (UK) has been awarded a three year support contract for the new UK Watchkeeper drone.
Thales was also the ‘system integrator’ for Watchkeeper, the company which took technology from the Hermes 450, and added new technology to create a made-in-UK drone system. Hermes 450 is a product of Elbit Systems of Israel, which is one of Israel’s largest drone exporters, and provides surveillance technology for Israel’s ‘apartheid wall’. Thales and Elbit did the project through a joint venture known as UTacS.
It does not appear that the contract was subject to competive bidding, at least none was mentioned.
Composite producer ACG provided the material for the body of the drone. ACG brags that the project has ‘strengthened the ties that exist between ACG and Elbit Systems’.
With up to 40 countries building drone technology some people have raised the possibility that ‘terrorists’ will be able to find and use drone technology. Others have dismissed that insurgents could acquire and master sophisticated drone technology.
But many countries, and many arms companies, have shown no compunction about selling sophisticated arms to insurgents, either for ideological reasons or for hard cash. Many drones are being sold for non military purposes, civilian surveillance, crop monitoring, border patrol, mapping etc. Access to drones of many sizes and the ability to fly them will proliferate. Many drones are small and easily hidden and transported. Most drones are put together with parts from many sources, and the constituent parts may soon be available to ‘build’ sophisticated drones from ‘off the shelf’.
Hezbollah has flown a surveillance drone over Israel.
Elbit Systems will be exhibiting at the International Armoured Vehicles Expo in London, on 1-5 February, 2010, at the Excel Centre. At the conference Elbit will be represented by Admon Yahuda, vice president of Land Platforms and Weapons Systems division of Elbit.
Also exhibiting will be Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
The conference and expo is being produced by the International Quality and Productivity Center
Watchkeeper is a new drone system being build by the UK, based on the Elbit Systems (Israel) Hermes 450 drone. The Prime contractor for Watchkeeper is Thales UK, which awarded a contract for a large part of the program to U-TacS, 51% owned by Elbit Systems.(The other 49% of UTacS is owned by Thales). U-TacS is more formally known as UAV Tactical Systems Ltd., of Scudamore Road, Leicester, UK.
A core plank of Elbit Systems social responsibility charter is ‘adopt a regiment’, also support for Zionism 2000. The social responsibility report contains a list of Elbit directors and management, with short biographies.
Israel has announced it is building the world’s largest drone, with a wingspan matching that of a 737. It will be high altitude and long endurance. It will be equipped with cameras for surveillance, as well as missiles which it says will be used to identify and intercept long range missiles.
Obviously it will also give it the opportunity to overfly the territories of other countries, without risk to Israeli pilots.
The US is increasingly using unmanned UAV’s (drones) in attack on insurgents in Iraq (up to 11 attacks per month by April, 2008. Robert Gates, US Defence Secretary, called for more drones to be rushed to the conflict zone in Iraq. (Tom Vandenbrook, Drone Attacks Hit High in Iraq, USA Today, April, 2008)
Note: it would appeat that Robert Gates is pushing for the use of drones to assassinate insurgents, much as is happening in Afghanistan. Of course despite advances in imaging technology, drone attacks have killed a large number of civilians wherever they have been used.