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WATCHKEEPER makes first UK flight

Thales UK today announces the maiden UK flight of the WATCHKEEPER unmanned air system (UAS). WATCHKEEPER flew for the first time in the UK on 14 April, taking off from dedicated facilities at Parc Aberporth in West Wales for a 20-minute flight. The Parc Aberporth facilities, managed by QinetiQ through the West Wales Unmanned Air vehicle (UAV) Centre, are the premier test facilities for UAVs in the UK.

The success of this first flight, which can be attributed to the combined efforts of the integrated Thales UK and Ministry of Defence (MoD) team, is the first milestone in a long-term programme to demonstrate that the WATCHKEEPER system meets the robust safety and airworthiness criteria required to fly UAVs initially on ranges and segregated airspace in the UK.

The WATCHKEEPER system provides enhanced capability that will enable commanders to detect and track targets for many hours without the need to deploy troops into potentially sensitive or dangerous areas. The system is capable of rapid deployment and operations anywhere in the world and will support the information requirements of all three services.

Commenting on this major programme milestone, Alex Dorrian, CEO of Thales UK, says: "This is a momentous accomplishment in the WATCHKEEPER programme and just one of a number of flight trials scheduled over the coming months. This milestone reflects the years of hard work by Thales UK, the MoD and other parties since the contract was signed."

Looking forward to the plans for the rest of the year, Dorrian adds: "2010 is an important year for the programme as it will also see the opening of the WATCHKEEPER training facility based in Larkhill, and the continuation of the technical field trials at Parc Aberporth."

Press release issued by UAV Tactical Systems Ltd (U-TacS) on April 16, 2010

 

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