- Watchkeeper begins operations in Afghanistan.
- Providing information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support and protection for British forces.
- Major milestone for Europe’s leading tactical UAV.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) today announced the first operational flights in Afghanistan of Thales’s unmanned air system, Watchkeeper.
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.
“Watchkeeper is the first Unmanned Air System developed and built in the UK to become operational and will be a significant surveillance and reconnaissance capability for the Army for years to come. There is no doubt that it will prove to be a battle-winning technology. Watchkeeper will provide real-time information for troops conducting operations on the ground, allowing them to understand better and thereby overcome threats they may face. ”
Michael Fallon, British Defence Secretary