Romania to Manufacture Elbit’s Watchkeeper Drones

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Romania to Manufacture Elbit’s Watchkeeper Drones
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Romanian aircraft equipment producer Aerostar signed the agreement with British company U-TacS, a joint venture between Elbit and Thales, to manufacture the drones in Romania. The agreement is intended to lay the groundwork for bidding for a potential tender in Romania for the supply of the aircraft. The Watchkeeper UAS a derivative of Elbit Systems’ Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicle developed by Thales for the UK Army. They have carried out missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A social media post by Lucian Daniel Stanciu Viziteu, mayor of the Romanian town of Bacau where Aerostar is based, revealed the deal as it showed a model of an armed version of the Watchkeeper X at a signing ceremony between the two companies.

Romania to Manufacture Elbit’s Watchkeeper Drones

The general manager of U-TacS, Yogev Dahan, and the president and general manager of Aerostar Bacău, Grigore Filip, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create a consortium to produce Watchkeeper X drones.

The Watchkeeper X, which was introduced in 2015 by Thales, is a large drone with a dual payload that allows various equipment such as cameras, radar, and electronic surveillance equipment to be installed.

At its launch, the standard Watchkeeper X featured a day/night navigational camera but could be fitted with a range of optional sensors, including mixed payloads of plug-and-play HD EO/IR (electro-optical/infrared) turrets, ground surveillance radars, maritime surveillance radars, communications intelligence systems (CommINT), radar electronic support measures (RESM), and cryptographic electronic support

Aerostar specialises in repairing and upgrading military aircraft, producing light aircraft, hydraulic equipment for aviation and piston engines, electronics, and other specialised equipment. The company exports its products to countries in Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East.

Privately-owned Romanian defence group IAROM owns a stake of 71.36% in Aerostar.

Watchkeeper X is a tactical UAV, and it flies at about 16,000 feet. It operates at a speed of about 85 kilometres per hour. The arming capacity of this drone comes from the British division.

Romania to Manufacture Elbit’s Watchkeeper Drones

Watchkeeper was tested on a mission in Afghanistan and Iraq, where it played a crucial role in protecting troops. Watchkeeper is a system certified to NATO standards and also certified to fly in civilian airspace. In August last year, the Watchkeeper monitored the English Channel, supporting efforts to combat illegal migration. The modular design of the system (scalable architecture) allows further developments to keep pace with technological advancement and customisations according to user requirements and needs.

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