UAV Tactical Systems is an Israeli-French drone company based out of a factory at Unit F, Meridian East, Meridian Business Park, Leicester, LE19 1WZ, U.K. The factory is used for design, testing, and manufacture of drones sold to the British army, Israel and international arms markets.

Watchkeeper Drone

UAV Tactical Systems’ flagship product is the Watchkeeper drone, made for the British Army and Border Force. Having racked up 100,000 hours of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Watchkeeper was originally modelled on Israel’s Elbit-made Hermes drones, which have been extensively deployed in operations against Gaza. By commissioning the Watchkeeper, the British government is thereby buying technology that claims to be ‘field-tested’ on Palestinians, while the Elbit CEO boasted of the ‘collaboration with the Israeli and UK governments‘ made possible through the Watchkeeper programme.


The UAV Tactical Systems factory is directly supplying the Israeli military. Data to 2021 shows that the company holds export licenses for the sale, to Israel, of drones systems, target acquisition/surveillance systems, electronics equipment, and other military technologies. Freedom of Information disclosures show the company supplies Israel with infrared or thermal imaging equipment, and components for military grade ground vehicles.

We also know that the UAV Tactical Systems site has been used for projects operating the Hermes class of drones, on behalf of both the British military and for the United Nations. This drone is notorious for its deployments against Palestinians, used for surveillance, bombings, and targetted assasinations. Having been Israel’s ‘worst kept secret‘ for years, the Israeli military recently admitted that its Hermes drones are outfitted with explosives and munitions, and it is likely that parts for these drones are what comprise the many ML10-categorised exports that UAV Tactical Systems holds for the sale to Israel.

The UAV Tactical Systems site is therefore intimately tied to Israel’s drone warfare operation in two ways. On one hand, it is fuelling Israel’s drone programmes directly through the provision of hardware for Israel’s Hermes. While on the other hand, it further profits from these operations by repackaging and selling Israeli drones under the Watchkeeper brand.

Elbit systems

All of this fits the pattern of Elbit’s British operations: profitting two-fold from Israeli occupation and from the export opportunities from Israeli occupation technologies. Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest arms company, with their broad range of activities generating a broad influence in Israel’s militarised, securitised occupation of Palestine. Elbit supplies the Israeli military with 85% of their drones and 85% of their land-based equipment. The company’s surveillance equipment monitors Palestinians through drone operations, at border points, and across Israel’s apartheid wall. Elbit supplies the IDF with all of its small calibre munitions through subsidiary IMI Systems, while its armed remote-control boats which have attacked Palestinian fishermen. Their Hermes drones have been used for extrajudical killings in foreign countries such as Sudan and operations in Egypt, while enabling the slaughter of Palestinians inside Gaza. They were used extensively in the 2008 and 2014 assaults on Gaza, in which Israel killed 1,417 and 2,202 Palestinians respectively, including four boys killed by a Hermes attack while playing on a beach in Gaza in 2014.

Elbit’s business model is then to sell these technologies on to fuel imperialism elsewhere. Its drones have not only been deployed by British military and border operations, but are employed by the EU’s militarised border agency Frontex. The same technologies outfitting Israel’s apartheid wall run along the US’ border wall with Mexico, and are used for monitoring of indigenous lands. Elbit drones have been puchased in major volumes by India, in turn deploying them in violent military campaigns perpetuating the repression of Kashmiri populations.

The company formerly hosted 10 sites across Britain. As of 2023, with Elbit forced to close its Oldham factory and London headquarters, this has been reduced to 8 sites. Soon they’ll only have 7.