Watchkeeper is a tactical Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) coming into service with the Royal Artillery. As described in my post from 2012, Watchkeeper Then and Now, it is arguably one of the most advanced systems in its class.
As it comes into service the prime contractor, Thales, are no doubt looking for export opportunities.
The most obvious second home for Watchkeeper is France but not of Sagem have anything to do with it so only time will tell.
Janes have reported this weekend that Poland is interested.
Thales UK and Poland’s WB Electronics have agreed to jointly develop and offer the WK450 Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the Polish Armed Forces Gryf (Gryphon) programme.
Defence exports great for the UK and are often used as justification for the state investing in the development of defence technology and not just buying off the shelf. Watchkeeper has no doubt been an expensive system, roughly a billion Pounds for the air vehicles, infrastructure and training systems.
So my question is a simple one.
Given the MoD makes great efforts to retain intellectual property rights on most of its major projects, if Thales UK sell Watchkeeper, or a derivative of it that has clearly benefited from the MoD funded Watchkeeper programme, to Poland, France or anyone else for that matter;
Does the MoD can anything back, directly into its budget?