Oct 8, 2013

Watchkeeper UAV edges towards UK acceptance

The British Army’s late-running Watchkeeper unmanned air system has cleared a major hurdle on its way to delayed service introduction, with the UK Military Aviation Authority (MAA) having approved a statement of type design assurance.
With this MAA approval now in place, Thales/Elbit Systems joint venture UTacS and the army will next seek to secure military type certification for the Watchkeeper before it can be introduced by Royal Artillery batteries.
The MoD in mid-September announced that an interim intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance service being provided by Thales in Afghanistan using Elbit’s Hermes 450 UAS (below) has passed 70,000 flying hours. Operated from Camp Bastion in Helmand province since 2007 under an urgent operational requirement deal, air vehicles are currently organised in five “task lines”. Roughly 1,460 flights per year are currently being conducted with the fleet.

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