asked Her Majesty's Government:
What proportionate increase in the endurance of the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle results from the fitting of additional or extended range fuel tanks; and what is the additional cost of such an amendment in terms of (a) the cost of the programme; and (b) the cost per unmanned aerial vehicle. [HL5312]
There is no current requirement to fit additional or extended range fuel tanks to the Watchkeeper unmanned air vehicle, nor has any assessment been made of the potential costs or endurance benefits of such an enhancement.
We keep our capability requirements under constant review and consideration is given to UAVs, among other capabilities, when they might provide a solution to an operational requirement.
The Reaper, Hermes 450 and Desert Hawk UAV systems are already deployed on operations. It is planned that the Watchkeeper tactical UAV system, which is currently due to enter service from late 2010, will replace the Hermes 450 capability on operations once it is in service.