NEUILLY-SUR-SEINE, France, March 5 (UPI) -- An unmanned aerial system developed by Thales for the Royal Army has been given full release-to-service certification by Britain's Ministry of Defense.
The status means Watchkeeper has passed all ministry safety and airworthiness reviews. It will support British Army operations by allowing training on the system in the Britain.
"The process of achieving RTS and the other certifications required for Watchkeeper has been ground-breaking, not only for Thales but also for the MOD and the CAA", said Victor Chavez, chief executive officer of Thales U.K. "Much painstaking work has been required by all parties to deliver the comprehensive and rigorous certification, but our collective achievement is a great one: the first tactical UAS allowed to fly in U.K. airspace."
"This is a hugely significant moment in the history of unmanned aircraft systems in the U.K., and indeed around the world," said Pierre Eric Pommellet, executive vice president of Thales in charge of the defense mission systems. "Watchkeeper is more than an aircraft. At the heart of the system is the revolutionary radar sensor, developed by Thales engineers in the U.K. and France, which offers unmatched performance for its size and weight."
Watchkeeper is a high-performance, multisensor, all-weather UAS that can remain airborne for more than 16 hours in a single mission.