Thales UK will provide an update on its progress with the British Army's Watchkeeper unmanned air system at the UK's Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) show in London on 13 September, and will also mark a new operational milestone for an interim deal with the service.
A full-scale model of the Watchkeeper programme's WK450 air vehicle will be on display in the exhibit halls, along with Thales's I-Master synthetic aperture radar payload developed for the tactical system.
According to a schedule outlined during June's Paris air show, the first Watchkeeper equipment is due to be delivered to the British Army later this year following the completion of operational testing. Its first WK450s should fly sorties over Afghanistan for the first time during December.
© Thales UK
The WK450 should be deployed to Afghanistan late this year
Meanwhile, Thales has announced that its urgent operational requirement deal to supply deployed intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance services to the British Army has passed the 50,000 flight hour milestone.
Announcing the development on 6 September, Thales UK said leased Elbit Systems Hermes 450s have achieved the total in more than 4,000 sorties flown since June 2007. Its arrangement initially included the use of the aircraft in Iraq, but it now sustains five "task lines" in Afghanistan. The WK450 is an extensive redevelopment of the Israeli-built Hermes 450.
Elsewhere on the Thales exhibit will be its Spy Arrow micro-unmanned air vehicle, which is already in operational use with the French armed forces in Afghanistan. The design has an all-up weight of just 600g.