§ Lord Vivian
asked her Majesty's Government:
What progress they are making with the Watchkeeper project; what benefits they anticipate from this; and on what timetable they are planning to proceed. [HL4628]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach)
Good progess is being made with the Watchkeeper project. Proposals from potential contractors for detailed assessment phase work were received in May and are being assessed. The Watchkeeper system, comprising unmanned aerial vehicles, their sensor packages and associated exploitation facilities on the ground is a new capability. It will meet a significant proportion of the intelligence and information requirements, principally of land commanders, by providing accurate, timely and high quality imagery and intelligence information in all weathers, day and night. It will be complemented by other programmes and existing capabilities. The in-service date for Watchkeeper will be finalised as part of the current assessment work but the working assumption is for an initial operating capability in 2007. The project is on schedule to achieve this.