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Watchkeeper achieves UK MoD Release to Service

5th March 2014 - 11:25 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Watchkeeper has become the first UAV to be given a full Release to Service (RTS) by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), clearing the way for the British Army to commence training flights in UK airspace.

The RTS – a formal statement on behalf of the Chief of General Staff that an acceptable safety case has been prepared for the aircraft and its equipment – follows rigorous safety and airworthiness reviews by the MoD to ensure the system can be operated safely by the British Army, according to a statement by contractor Thales.

With this certification the Watchkeeper programme can move from the testing and evaluation
phase – previously undertaken by Thales operators in the approved test airspace near Parc Aberporth, Wales – to full flight training for British Army operators.

The army will begin training flights from Boscomb Down in Wiltshire.

Lt Col Craig Palmer of the British Army said: ‘The safety bar for Watchkeeper has been set very high. The detailed reviews and testing of the whole system have provided significant evidence that the system is maturing rapidly; sufficiently enough to support an RTS recommendation.’

Watchkeeper is being developed by Thales to meet British Army requirements for 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.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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