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Thales’s Watchkeeper UAV given Release To Service by UK Ministry of Defence

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World Air Force News - UK
 
 
Thales’s Watchkeeper UAV given Release To Service by UK Ministry of Defence.
 

Watchkeeper, the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed by Thales for the British Army, has been given a Release To Service by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD).

     
Watchkeeper, the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed by Thales for the British Army, has been given a Release To Service by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Watchkeeper (Photo credit : Thales)
     

Watchkeeper is the first UAS to be awarded a full Release To Service (RTS), and is the only UAS of its type allowed to fly in UK airspace. The RTS follows rigorous safety and airworthiness reviews to ensure the system can be operated safely by the British Army. It will support British Army operations by allowing training on the system in the UK.

Watchkeeper is a high-performance, multi-sensor, all-weather UAS that can remain airborne for more than 16 hours in a single mission. The tactical UAS will be deployed by the British Army for life-saving surveillance and intelligence capabilities in support of military operations and is unarmed.

Crucially, Watchkeeper is certified to the same safety standard as manned aircraft.
The RTS moves the Watchkeeper programme from the testing and evaluation phase – previously undertaken by Thales operators in the approved test airspace near Parc Aberporth, West Wales – to full flight training for British Army operators.

It follows the announcement (24 February) that the British Army will begin training flights from Boscombe Down, Wiltshire.

The RTS will allow army crews to fly sorties in segregated airspace, integrating with the military exercises taking place on Salisbury Plain.