23 Jul 02. Farnborough’s main talking point among the military community today was the news (unconfirmed by the MoD) that the UK’s Watchkeeper downselect could take place as early as the first week in August. BATTLESPACE understands that the papers are with CDP Sir Robert Walmsley on Friday. A submission with recommendations will then be sent to Ministers.
Strong suggestions emerged during the show that the BAE SYSTEMS Team will be one of the selections with a number of observers suggesting that the Thales Team has moved ahead of its U.S. rivals Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Some surprise was expressed by a number of people regarding Northrop Grumman’s selection of the Fire Scout UAV which has yet to receive a production order and is threatened with cancellation. However Northrop said that its mix of UAVs was not set in stone and would be reconsidered if the company was selected. Now that the TRW acquisition is moving to a close, Northrop will have access to considerable TRW C4ISTAR expertise to complement its own.