PAS 2011: Hermes 450 customers sought
As the UK begins to roll out its Watchkeeper capability over the next 18 months, Thales has turned its thoughts to what to do with the Hermes 450s that it has been providing to the UK under a service arrangement.
Nick Miller. UAV business development manager for Thales, told Shephard that there would be 'numerous' Thales-owned H450s available. The British Army expects to have replaced all the H450s currently in Afghanistan with Watchkeeper by late 2012.
Miller said that the company has had a lot of interest in the H450s although it was unlikely that any would stay in Afghanistan. The fleet has done some 48000 flight hours to date and will be brought back to the UK for assessment.
However, the company believes it is unlikely to sign up a customer for the H450s next year, but Miller said there was firm interest. One of the areas that is gathering a lot of interest is the use of the UAVs for homeland security.
Questions remain as to whether Thales will look to dispose of the UAVs or offer them under a service arrangement. Any disposal of the H450s might come up against competition from the original manufacturer Elbit Systems.
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