Defense electronics company Elbit Systems subsidiary El-Op signed a contract with the French Space Agency (CNES) for the supply of its optical space camera, Venus, the Haifa-based Elbit said Sunday. The deal is said to be worth several million dollars and follows a 317 million Euro contract Elbit closed on Friday in partnership with British defense contractor Thales UK, to execute a major portion of the UK Defense Ministry's Watchkeeper program over the next eight years. Elbit and Thales have formed a joint venture company called U-TacS, which won a 700m. Euro contract with the UK Defense Ministry in August, and which Friday's deal forms a part of. Elbit said that as U-TacS' largest subcontractor, its portion of the deal is worth approximately one third the contract's value. The agreement covers the development, manufacture and initial support phases of the Watchkeeper program, with the aim of extending Britain's use of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). The program will deliver equipment, training and facilities to be deployed by the forces from 2010. Meanwhile, in terms of its agreement with CNES, El-Op will deliver Venus to the French agency in approximately two and a half years, for installation of the camera on a microsatellite. CNES intends to launch the satellite eight months after this delivery, towards the end of 2008. This deal follows a cooperation agreement implemented through a memorandum of understanding, signed in June 2005 between the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and CNES, its French counterpart. The El-Op contract is the first cooperation between the two agencies. The camera is used for research on land surfaces, especially for monitoring the productivity and carbon balance of ecosystems and crops and for water management of irrigated crops. El-Op General Manager Haim Rousso said that the company sees potential for the camera in additional scientific and commercial applications such as agriculture, ground mapping, environment and security monitoring and research.