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Thales demonstrates the future of unmanned systems in a maritime environment through the UK Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior

Thales, along with 40 organisations from defence, industry and academia, has been working with the Royal Navy over the last year to deliver the largest unmanned systems event of its kind.

Taking place in October 2016, Unmanned Warrior will see over 50 vehicles, sensors and systems operating in a number of themed activities in the MOD exercise areas based around Scotland and in West Wales.

Unmanned Warrior brings together British industry to demonstrate their innovation, as the Royal Navy looks to understand how unmanned systems might add real capability in a Maritime environment.

As a leader in autonomous and unmanned systems, Thales will be showcasing its capability through three categories: Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) trials, Mine Countermeasure (MCM) exercises, and through the provision of Unmanned Systems Command and Control.


For the first time, Thales’s Watchkeeper Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), currently in service with the British Army, will fly in a littoral environment operating alongside a Type 23 warship and merchant ship. Watchkeeper will be integrated into a series of exercises varying from persistent wide area surveillance support, to landing forces and naval gunfire support. This demonstrates the potential of using Watchkeeper to enhance the Royal Navy’s ability to defend itself and conduct operations at sea and over land.

Watchkeeper will operate up to 150 kilometres off-shore, working collaboratively with the Royal Navy to survey the littoral environment.  The combination of Watchkeeper’s EO/IR sensor and I-Master Radar make Watchkeeper optimised for both land and sea operations, and for tracking fast moving targets such as jet skis and small boats. Data collected by Watchkeeper will be streamed down remotely to the vessels and analysed by trained operators to make better informed command decisions in support of the trials exercises.

Halcyon Unmanned Surface Vehicle

Also as part of the Unmanned Warrior exercise, Thales’s Halcyon Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) equipped with a Thales Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar, will take part in a number of mine hunting challenges aimed at demonstrating the significant benefits of autonomous technology when operating in hostile environments, including the reduction of risk to life. MCM missions using Halcyon will be planned and coordinated using Thales mission management software, providing comprehensive command and control of the USV operation.


Thales, with industry partners is also involved in the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL) innovative research programme called MAPLE (Maritime Autonomous Platform Exploitation). The MAPLE programme is developing the future architecture for Unmanned Systems Command and Control, by enabling multiple unmanned platforms, such as unmanned air vehicles (UAV), unmanned surface vehicles (USV), and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV), and their payloads to be innovatively commanded and controlled from a single control station.

Thales has been instrumental in the design of the multi domain architecture and has brought experience of operating USV, UUV and UAS into the design activity. The MAPLE activity will form a key part of Unmanned Warrior, providing initial implementations of the Unmanned Systems control station, incorporating the Thales mission management software for the seamless command and control of the Halcyon USV.

Thales welcomes the opportunity to support the Royal Navy’s commitment to innovation and exploring the future utility and integration of autonomous and unmanned systems into maritime operations.