Case Studies

Defence - The MOD’s Watchkeeper Programme


Company Name: Thales

Location: Wales

Defence Case study

The MOD’s Watchkeeper Programme

The problem

The UK’s MOD Watchkeeper system is a high-performance, multi-sensor, multi-mission unmanned air system (UAV) that can remain airborne for over 16 hours in a single mission. Interoperability, survivability, persistence, endurance and the flexibility to carry out flight operations in both military and civil airspace are all key criteria for the MOD. They called on our world-leading expertise in prime contracting, system integration, UAV subsystem design and system architecture to meet the evolving needs of the Armed Forces.

The solution

We created a new system architecture design and validation platform – the Battlefield Transformation Centre – and on 14 April 2010 the Watchkeeper UAV took its maiden flight through west Wales. The UAV has a unique dual payload capability. It carries a synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator and either datalink relay or electro-optical/infra red sensor, with optional laser target designator. A crew of just two is a required to operate the system from a ground control station, with no pilot training needed.

The results

The Watchkeeper UAV delivers high-quality image intelligence day and night and in all weather conditions. The information generated by this technology allows commanders to detect, identify and track targets for many hours without the need to deploy troops into potentially sensitive or dangerous areas. By working together, Thales and the MOD have delivered 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.


 

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