Flight International Online news 10:30GMT: Thales and Israeli firm Elop are to provide the mission payloads for the UK’s Watchkeeper WK450 unmanned air vehicle system under a selection announced on 7 December. The companies will respectively supply their I-Master synthetic-aperture radar/ground moving target indication (SAR/GMTI) and Compass IV electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) systems, each of which weighs around 40kg (88lb).
Unveiled at the Farnborough air show in 2004, the developmental I-Master system will provide sub-metric resolution SAR imagery from a range of 20km (37nm) in strip mode and 15km in spot mode, and be capable of detecting slow moving vehicles or people from a range of up to 20km in GMTI mode, says Thales.
The Compass IV had been considered favourite to equip the WK450, having been demonstrated at ParcAberporth earlier this year with an Elbit Systems Hermes 450 – the baseline platform for the UK’s Watchkeeper tactical UAV system. The Elop design can also be equipped with a laser rangefinder and target illuminator for offensive purposes.
The UK plans to deploy some of its 450kg WK450 air vehicles with both SAR/GMTI and EO/IR sensors, with the latter to provide positive identification of potential targets detected by the I-Master system. Operations of the Watchkeeper system are expected from 2010.
CRAIG HOYLE / LONDON
Source: Flight International