British army Watchkeeper UAS Unmanned Aerial system first operational flights in Afghanistan 3009145

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Defence & Security News - United Kingdom

 
 
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 10:47 AM
 
British army Watchkeeper UAS Unmanned Aerial system first operational flights in Afghanistan.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced September 29, 2014, the first operational flights in Afghanistan of Thales’s unmanned air system, Watchkeeper. The Thales Watchkeeper is a UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) especially designed to perform Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance missions.
     
The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced September 29, 2014, the first operational flights in Afghanistan of Thales’s unmanned air system, Watchkeeper. The Thales Watchkeeper is a UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) especially designed to perform Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance missions.
A British army Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan.
     
Commenting on the announcement, Victor Chavez, CEO of Thales UK, said: "It is a proud moment for everyone at Thales to receive the great news that Watchkeeper is operational in Afghanistan, supporting and protecting British forces on the ground. It is an important milestone for the MOD, Thales and the wider European aerospace industry, made possible by its ground-breaking safety certification. The system embodies a number of major technological innovations including ultra-high resolution, multi-modal radar and automatic take-off and landing to deliver an outstandingly effective military capability for the British Army.”
The news comes as other countries assess Watchkeeper for their tactical unmanned requirements.

Thales is the prime contractor for Watchkeeper. The programme has established the company as a leader in unmanned air systems, setting new benchmarks in safety. Watchkeeper secured the first Statement of Type Design Assurance from the Military Aviation Authority for an unmanned air system, a critical step to ensure the best in class system. Watchkeeper was given a Release To Service (RTS) in March 2014.

Thales has also delivered a new comprehensive training capability based at MOD Larkhill and Boscombe Down, and has helped to establish Aberporth, West Wales as a leading UAV Testing Centre in Europe.

Watchkeeper is a dual sensor, all-weather system that can provide round-the-clock intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, anywhere in the world.
     
The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced September 29, 2014, the first operational flights in Afghanistan of Thales’s unmanned air system, Watchkeeper. The Thales Watchkeeper is a UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) especially designed to perform Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance missions.
A 4 man team from 43 Battery, 47 Regiment, Royal Artillery of British Army , led by Corporal Si Downey assembling a Watchkeeper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, 23rd September 2014.

     
The Watchkeeper WK450 is based on the Elbit Hermes 450 UAV. The engine is a rotary Wankel engine. It has a mass of 450 kg and a payload capacity of 150 kg, with a typical endurance of 17 hours.

In August 2005, Thales UK was awarded the contract for the development, manufacture and initial support (DMIS) phases of the Watchkeeper programme. 54 Watchkeeper UAV systems were ordered for delviery to the British Army.

Originally slated to enter service from late 2010, the Watchkeeper UAS was enter in service with the British Armed Forces in 2014.

In March 2014, the Watchkeeper was cleared for military flight training with the Royal Artillery. Operating out of Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, 1st Artillery Brigade is training with the Watchkeeper in restricted airspace over Salisbury Plain between 8,000 and 16,000 feet

The British Army will receive 30 Watchkeepers and a further 24 machines due to go into store to be pulled into service as needed
 

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