The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded Thales UK the initial three-year support contract for the Watchkeeper Unmanned Air System (UAS) programme, for which Thales UK is also prime systems integrator.
The Watchkeeper support solution will be a performance-based Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) service, providing spares and repairs, technical support and the availability of the Watchkeeper training facility. Thales will deliver this service with the support of its key partners and supply chain, established during the Watchkeeper development and production programme.
The contract further secures Thales’s role as an expert provider of innovation and support surrounding UASs and other intelligence and surveillance systems. The contract covers the whole Watchkeeper system, comprised of over 160 entities (including unmanned air vehicles, ground control stations and support vehicles), and includes operator / user training. It is the first step in Thales UK’s provision of cost-effective, through-life support to Watchkeeper.
The Watchkeeper system is Europe’s largest UAS programme, and will provide enhanced all-weather, dual-sensor multi-mission and image-exploitation, and dissemination capability for the UK armed forces. The programme will contribute significantly to information gathering and force protection by providing the MoD with remote, unmanned intelligence and surveillance monitoring during deployed operations.
Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) UAS Programme Manager Steve Waller, says: "This is a significant milestone, keeping the programme on track to achieve the inservice date and deliver the capability into theatre as soon as is practical."
Watchkeeper will initially operate in parallel with the Thales-led H-450 UAS programme, an innovative, service-provision programme that since June 2007 has provided battlewinning ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) capability for the UK Armed Forces. H-450 has now flown more than 30,000 operational hours in support of current operations.
The Watchkeeper support contract builds on Thales’s extensive, proven expertise in providing responsive and robust support contracts, such as Sea King Integrated Operational Support (SKIOS), Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) and availability-based support to electronic warfare systems on the UK Royal Navy’s entire above and below water fleet.
The Watchkeeper Service Management Team will be based in the UK, with Joint MoD / Thales Service Delivery and Training teams based in Abbey Wood, Bristol and Larkhill, Salisbury, assisted by service support organisations at Thales’s facilities in both Leicester and Crawley.
About Thales and Thales UK:
Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace and Space, Defence, Security and Transportation markets. In 2009 the company generated revenues of £11.5 billion (12.9 billion euros) with 68,000 employees in 50 countries. With its 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements. Thales has an exceptional international footprint, with operations around the world working with customers as local partners.
Thales UK employs 8,500 staff based at 40 locations. In 2009 Thales UK's revenues were around £1.5 billion.
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