Feb 28, 2011 By Michael A. Taverna AviationWeek.com
PARIS — Thales says deliveries of the Watchkeeper UAV will get under way toward year’s end. Handover of the system, intended for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, had been expected in February but were delayed by some as-yet-undisclosed “technical difficulties,” Thales executives said Feb. 25 in revealing 2010 final results. Executives say the issues were detected in a report issued by Britain’s National Audit Office and have now been resolved. Thales is building 54 Watchkeeper units, based on Elbit’s Hermes 450 air vehicle, under a ₤800 million ($1.3 billion) contract with the U.K. Ministry of Defense. It is also supplying spares and support services under a three-year follow-on award issued last year. The UAV made its first flight in April 2010.