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British Army's new Watchkeeper UAS cleared to fly


The British Army's Watchkeeper unmanned aerial system in flight over the UK during testing. Photo: Richard Seymour, Thales UK

LONDON (BNS): The British Army's next generation Unmanned Air System, Watchkeeper, has been cleared to begin military flight training with the Royal Artillery, the Ministry of Defence said.

According to the Mod, approval has now been given for the Army's own pilots to begin live flying from Boscombe Down in Wiltshire.

Over the coming weeks, highly skilled 1st Artillery Brigade pilots will be trained to fly Watchkeeper in a restricted airspace over Salisbury Plain training area.

The flights, which will take place between 8,000 and 16,000 feet, will be overseen by military air traffic controllers, it said.

Watchkeeper UAS is the first Unmanned Air System developed and built in the UK to become operational.

Gathering crucial information from the battlefield, Watchkeeper will provide UK troops with life-saving surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence. It will also give personnel on the ground much greater situational awareness, helping to reduce threats, Minister for Defence, Equipment Support and Technology, Philip Dunne said.

Since its first UK flight in 2010 by its manufacturer Thales UK, Watchkeeper, which has a wingspan of 35 feet has already completed over 600 flying hours from West Wales Airport.

Tags:

UK  Army  UAS  Watchkeeper  

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