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Insight: Is the Watchkeeper UAV providing value for money for the British Army?

8th September 2023 - 14:30 GMT | by Matty Todhunter in London


In the March 2021 Defence Command Paper, the British Army announced that the Watchkeeper's mid-life extension project would be completed by 2027. (Photo: UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

The Watchkeeper UAS has garnered interest from countries like Poland and Romania, despite a chequered operational history in the UK. Shephard analyses the aircraft's capabilities and the cost they come at.


Watchkeeper is a tactical UAS manufactured for the British Army by U-TacS, a joint venture between Elbit Systems and Thales. The platform, a heavily modified variant of the Hermes 450, provides an ISTAR capability and was utilised by the UK in Afghanistan.

In 2015, Thales launched the Watchkeeper X, an upgraded variant that Romania is acquiring.

Additional information

How long has Watchkeeper been in service?

The Watchkeeper is based on the Hermes 450 manufactured by Elbit Systems. The final design for the Watchkeeper was unveiled in 2007. The first flight was in April 2008, and the first flight with

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Matty Todhunter


Matty Todhunter

Matty Todhunter is the Senior UAS Analyst for Shephard Media's Defence Insight. Before joining Shephard, Matty graduated …

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