Watchkeeper Deploys to Afghanistan

News from the MoD

How cool is that container!

The Army’s next generation of Unmanned Air System (UAS) – Watchkeeper – is now fully operational in Afghanistan.

This new capability is providing force protection for British troops as they prepare to draw down from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Gathering crucial information from the battlefield, Watchkeeper, which is unarmed, will provide UK troops with life-saving surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence. It will also give personnel on the ground greater situational awareness, helping to reduce the risk of threats.

Watchkeeper pilot Sgt Alex Buchanan said: “It’s been a real privilege to be the first to fly the Army’s new Watchkeeper Remotely Piloted Air System on operations. It’s an amazing capability and has already provided important information to the troops, enhancing the safety of everyone that lives and works at Bastion.

“The video and images we provide are a bit like what you might have seen during police chases on TV, the main differences are the videos and pictures are a much higher resolution and we fly the aircraft from a control centre on the ground.”

 

 

Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan

 

 

 

Read more about Watchkeeper…

[browser-shot width=”700″ url=”https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/06/watchkeeper-then-and-now/”]
9 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Darned Consultant
Darned Consultant
October 1, 2014 11:38 am

Nice video! Glad the old girl is finally out there doing what its designed to do!
And yeah, that container is cool – needs either an “A Team” or “Thunderbirds” theme running when it is being unloaded… (or was that just in my head).
Pity its a bit far from the other places where we need eyes (etc) now.

The Other Chris
October 1, 2014 11:39 am

It’s a very well thought out packing system. Appreciate Reaper is a bigger beast, however the folding mechanism in the Watchkeeper container really seems to help speed up unloading and assembly.

Challenger
Challenger
October 1, 2014 4:53 pm

Better late than never.

WiseApe
October 1, 2014 4:56 pm

I thought it would be bigger. And it makes a wimpy noise. But otherwise all good.

Some have talked about weaponising the Watchkeeper. If you weaponise it, it becomes a “bomber,” ergo property of the RAF, surely.

Mark
Mark
October 1, 2014 5:23 pm

If you weaponise it you may need help from the curvature of the earth to get it airborne.

WiseApe
October 1, 2014 5:33 pm

@Mark: :D

John Hartley
John Hartley
October 1, 2014 6:43 pm

I don’t know if this is a good idea or not, but I did wonder about having a UAV armed with an Alexander Arms .338 Lapua semi auto rifle. in a movable turret with zoom sight, laser rangefinder, bullet drop computer, etc. Given the tough rules of engagement, it seems only one in ten missions, leads to a Paveway or Brimstone being used, so perhaps something less explody, might be used more. Would un-nerve AQ/Taliban/IS fighters if they were being sniped from above.

Obsvr
Obsvr
October 2, 2014 8:37 am

It is armed, its just that the firing positions are on the ground to execute the CFF from the ground station. Who needs a pissant MG when GMLRS will do the biz

The Other Chris
October 2, 2014 8:52 am

LMM has been mentioned. The other option is a “mini-munition” such as the FFLMM:

http://aviationweek.com/farnborough-2014/thales-reveals-6-kg-glide-bomb-uavs

Though given the actual role being performed, does it require weapons itself? EDIT: As Obsvr notes.

Arming Reaper while performing some of the roles it fulfils is understandable, but Watchkeeper?