Thales unveils pro­duc­tion WATCHKEEPER air vehi­cle design

Thales UK has unveiled the final con­fig­u­ra­tion of the WATCHKEEPER unmanned air vehi­cle (UAV) fol­low­ing a Crit­i­cal Design Review by the Min­istry of Defence (MoD). The air vehi­cle has been devel­oped with Elbit Sys­tems and will be man­u­fac­tured at the UAV Tac­ti­cal Sys­tems Ltd (U‑TacS — the Thales UK/Elbit Sys­tems joint com­pa­ny) site in Leicester.

The pro­duc­tion WATCHKEEPER air vehi­cle design includes the fol­low­ing features: 

  • Dual-pay­load configuration
  • Flex­i­ble, all-weath­er oper­a­tion with de-icing capability
  • Improved access to sub-sys­tems for eas­i­er maintenance
  • Auto­mat­ic take­off and landing

Thales Watchkeeper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

The design rep­re­sents key UK-spe­cif­ic enhance­ments for expe­di­tionary use around the world and an improved abil­i­ty to pro­vide an essen­tial, cost-effec­tive intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance, tar­get acqui­si­tion and recon­nais­sance (ISTAR) capa­bil­i­ty for the MoD.

WATCHKEEPER is an ISTAR sys­tem with sev­er­al impor­tant sub-sys­tems. The air vehi­cle how­ev­er is not only an icon­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the sys­tem but a major fac­tor in per­sis­tence, tac­ti­cal deploy­ment and low sup­port and oper­at­ing costs. The evo­lu­tion of the design, from the ini­tial base­line Her­mes 450 air vehi­cle to the final con­fig­u­ra­tion, reflects a ded­i­ca­tion to pro­vid­ing the best pos­si­ble solu­tion for the UK,” says Richard Deakin, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Thales’s aero­space busi­ness in the UK.

“The final­i­sa­tion of the design of the air vehi­cle is a major mile­stone in the WATCHKEEPER pro­gramme and marks a sig­nif­i­cant step on the jour­ney to cre­ate the most capa­ble vehi­cle and sys­tem for use in the UK,” says Deakin. “WATCHKEEPER is a unique sys­tem that will form a key part of the UK’s net­work enabled capa­bil­i­ty – a capa­ble and reli­able UAV car­ry­ing high­ly advanced sen­sors, linked to a com­pre­hen­sive net­work of com­mand, con­trol, exploita­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion elements.”

Alex Dor­ri­an, Thales UK Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer, says: “The WATCHKEEPER sys­tem will pro­vide the UK with a pow­er­ful asset capa­ble of oper­at­ing in the­atres around the world and in all weath­er con­di­tions. This is an excit­ing glimpse into the future of aero­space tech­nol­o­gy and we are proud to be lead­ing such a cut­ting-edge programme.”

Thales will offer a vari­ant of the new air vehi­cle to cus­tomers out­side of the UK WATCHKEEPER programme.

About Thales
Thales is a lead­ing inter­na­tion­al elec­tron­ics and sys­tems group, serv­ing defence, aero­space and secu­ri­ty mar­kets world­wide, sup­port­ed by a com­pre­hen­sive ser­vices offer­ing. The group’s civ­il and mil­i­tary busi­ness­es devel­op in par­al­lel to serve a sin­gle objec­tive: the secu­ri­ty of peo­ple, prop­er­ty and nations. Lever­ag­ing a glob­al net­work of high-lev­el engi­neers, Thales offers a capa­bil­i­ty unmatched around the world to devel­op and deploy mis­sion crit­i­cal systems.

Thales UK employs 9,000 staff, based at more than 50 loca­tions in the UK. In 2006 Thales UK’s rev­enues were over £1 bn. At a Group lev­el, Thales employs 70,000 peo­ple world­wide in 50 coun­tries and gen­er­at­ed rev­enues of £7 bn in 2006, with a record order book of over £14 bn.

Bildquelle / image source: Thales

Ansprech­part­ner / Con­tact:
Thales UK
Kathryn Bell
Tel: +44 (0)1932 824832
Mob: +44 (0)7813 903274

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