Aerial Warfare

Elbit Systems Awarded Romanian Contract for Watchkeeper X Unmanned Aircraft Systems

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Elbit Systems Awarded Romanian Contract for Watchkeeper X Unmanned Aircraft Systems

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Watchkeeper X Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Watchkeeper X Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Elbit Systems Ltd. announced that it was awarded a framework contract with a maximum value of approximately $410 million (approximately 1.89 billion Lei) to supply up to seven “Watchkeeper X” tactical unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for the Romanian Ministry of National Defense, with a validity of five years. No specific purchase order under the contract was awarded yet. The Watchkeeper X UAS is the UK export variant of the British army made by UAV Tactical Systems Limited (“U-TacS”), Elbit Systems’ UK subsidiary, and is a derivative of the Elbit Hermes 450
medium-sized multi-payload unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Watchkeeper X’ compatibility with NATO standards enables essential interoperability with NATO and other allied forces.

Watchkeeper X is 6.5m long, with a 10.9m wingspan. Its cruising speed is 77 knots (143 km/h), and it can operate at an altitude of 16,000 feet (4,900 m). It has a takeoff weight of 485 kg, a typical endurance of 14 hours, a payload capacity of 150 kg and uses a rotary Wankel engine provided by UAV Engines Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems, and target acquisition camera by another subsidiary, Instro. A prime difference between the Hermes 450 and Watchkeeper is that the 450 is fitted only with an electro-optical/infrared sensor, while the WK450 has in addition a dual-mode synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indication system that allows it to see through all weather conditions.

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British Army U-TacS Watchkeeper WK450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
British Army U-TacS Watchkeeper WK450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. (Photo by Peter Russell LBIPP/UK MoD)

Bezalel (Butzi) Machlis, President and CEO of Elbit Systems, said: “This contract demonstrates the sustained demand for Elbit Systems’ UAS. We look forward to further strengthening Elbit Systems’ relationship with the Romanian Government. As part of the contract execution, Elbit Systems plans to establish infrastructure and industrial cooperation with U-TacS, Aerostar and Elbit Systems’ subsidiaries in Romania to produce the UAS in Romania. We also appreciate the continued support and collaboration with the Israeli and UK governments and our business partners on the Watchkeeper program.

The system delivers intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capability, operating in extreme and challenging environments to collect, exploit and distribute vital information efficiently. Watchkeeper X is a fully airworthy, certified, unmanned aircraft system that can be adapted to your exact needs through the right choice in sensors, exploitation, mobility and effectors options. These options can be selected and inserted throughout the
lifetime of the system. Central to the effectiveness of this certified high-performance unmanned aircraft system is the aircraft. It has an impressive 16hrs+ endurance, operating at ranges in excess of 140km with maximum transit speed of 95knots. When operating multiple aircraft with the system you can achieve 24/7 surveillance, operating at any range.

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