Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (British Army)

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Excellent point, and I hope the right interpretation:
- we have broken this complete system in, but are now starting to operate in house
=therefore you can have it (as long as you pay for it) as our contribution

A bit like the NATO ground surveillance capability: we have no money, but can contribute in kind (if we don't happen to be too busy at the time)
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
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The Armchair Soldier
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by The Armchair Soldier »

Footage of Watchkeeper in use during Unmanned Warrior 2016:

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shark bait
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by shark bait »

I wonder is domestic patrol a role we could see watch keeper used for? We certainly have plenty of them.
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Happyslapper
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by Happyslapper »

shark bait wrote:I wonder is domestic patrol a role we could see watch keeper used for? We certainly have plenty of them.
Not on the CAA's watch, unfortunately.

Drones of any flavour have a abysmal reputation among professional aviators. Even watchkeepers, DH3's and the like are limited to a small area of Salisbury Plain (normally D125) and are loathed to step beyond.
It's a great shame given the potential for everything from power-line inspection (a multi-million pound industry in itself) to spot-wifi, surveillance, SAR, remote cargo... you name it.
The National Police Air Service is currently running a project looking into the use of drones nationwide to supplement/replace the use of rotary and fixed wing assets, but it's an uphill battle for sure. Every negative headline about drones endangering civil aviation, or looking up Mrs Newarts knickers, or crashing into a kids play park, pushes the blatant utility of these sytems further away. Shame.
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shark bait
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by shark bait »

Right now it's difficult, but that will have to change.

Rules and procedures will be developed for drones in the UK and both civilian and military operators will benefit.
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Happyslapper
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by Happyslapper »

shark bait wrote:Right now it's difficult, but that will have to change.

Rules and procedures will be developed for drones in the UK and both civilian and military operators will benefit.
It will, but it's wishful thinking to believe it will do so in a common-sense minded way. The CAA is a naturally conservative body, staffed primarily by ex-airline and air traffic control types. It's got no presence from civil or military security types, nor from the pioneers of civil unmanned aviation. They are, as you would expect, a body that's as risk averse as they come. It's even worse in full-blown EASA land.
The military have the benefit of extensive training areas overseas. Joe Bloggs who wants to do fence-surveys for the National Trust has to jump through ridiculous hoops which make his business borderline unviable. It's the latter which is part of a broader multi-billion pound potential industry.
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marktigger
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by marktigger »

shark bait wrote:I wonder is domestic patrol a role we could see watch keeper used for? We certainly have plenty of them.
City flight over Belfast

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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by bobp »

So the Watchkeeper is having serious landing problems due to a unfixed glitch in its software.
http://www.janes.com/article/66363/brit ... ms-persist

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shark bait
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by shark bait »

The article mentions the Royal Artillery as the operated, I thought WatchKeeper got moved away from their control?
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by Gabriele »

It is Royal Artillery owned and operated, but under control of Army Air Corps (rather than 1st ISR Brigade as originally intended) due to the "air mindedness" issue, whatever that actually means.
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RunningStrong
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by RunningStrong »

Another unit lost in Mid Wales. This does seem quite a high failure rate during training!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-44502731

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

No wonder they were sent to Ascension Island for qualification testing:
"Other drone crashes happened in 2009 and 2014, while two plunged into the sea in 2017"

Operationally (Watchkeepers are now under JHC, together with Wildcats meeting the "find" function), I wonder, if the primary link is to RA or to the ISR Bde?
- don't know in how big "lumps" the single bde and its assets are fielded, in support of combat arms
- JHC has the "attack" function as well, but I haven't read anywhere about Apaches not being in AAC ... so what assets, if any, are there for that
- or has the "Lift/ Find/ Attack" motto been formed in anticipation of a future move?
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by Timmymagic »

How many of the original 54 do we actually have left now?

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Gabriele
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by Gabriele »

Operationally (Watchkeepers are now under JHC, together with Wildcats meeting the "find" function), I wonder, if the primary link is to RA or to the ISR Bde?
47 RA Regiment sits within the ISR Bde, but the Joint Helicopter Command provides oversight for the aviation work for the platform.
JHC has the "attack" function as well, but I haven't read anywhere about Apaches not being in AAC ... so what assets, if any, are there for that
Joint Helicopter Command has overall autority over every helicopter but the Merlin HM2 and Wildcat HMA2. The Commando Helicopter Force, the RAF Support Helicopter Force and the Army's 1st Regiment (reconnaissance force) and 3 and 4 regiments (attack helicopter force) ultimately respond to JHC. Day to day, the helicopters belong to the respective service, but overall control sits with the 2 star JHC commander.
How many of the original 54 do we actually have left now?
49. There is still plenty, considering that only 4 batteries are expected and there is probably still only 2 of them operational as of now, 10 (Assaye) and 43 (Lloyd's Company) batteries which were completing their training earlier this year. Two more batteries should follow if the plan does not change.
In theory, one battery for each "true" brigade the Army has left, since the whole of 1st Division is a hodgepot of infantry without CS and CSS anyway.
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Dahedd
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by Dahedd »

What's with all the Watchkeeper hate all over the net & FB groups? I thought that it was based on the tried & tested Israeli Hermes ?

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (Army)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Dahedd wrote:thought that it was based on the tried & tested Israeli Hermes ?
- how many bn has it cost?
- how many years was it late by?
- can it be used, as of now, should a need arise?
- which one is better, the current Hermes or ours 'on steroids'?

Like:
"The UK Has Spent Nearly 15 Years Developing Watchkeeper Drones ...
http://www.thedrive.com/.../the-uk-has- ... keeper-dro...

22 Mar 2018 - The British Army has more than 50 of the unmanned aircraft"... well, not any more

OR (adjust for this piece being from 2015):
"A landmark Ministry of Defence order for 54 battlefield drones that was hailed by ministers a decade ago as an “affordable solution” will be four years late and cost £1.2bn"
https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/s ... -programme
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)


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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (British Army)

Post by Ron5 »

The Armchair Soldier wrote:Watchkeeper seeing some use in supporting the Border Force: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/army ... -d3qs3nsxh
Weather dependent? Good grief Charlie Brown.

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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (British Army)

Post by topman »

Shipping should keep an eye out, watchkeeper can pile in at any moment!

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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (British Army)

Post by CMOR »

https://nsc.nasa.gov/resources/case-stu ... stonehenge

NASA's case study on Watchkeeper as a prime example of How Not To Do Things!

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Jensy
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (British Army)

Post by Jensy »

Another inglorious epsiode in the Watchkeeper saga:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... ing-flight

"An army spokesperson said: “We can confirm that on 14 October 2020, during routine flying training, there was an incident involving a Watchkeeper at Akrotiri in Cyprus, resulting in some damage to the aircraft. A full investigation is underway and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (British Army)

Post by J. Tattersall »

Watchkeeper: All About The UK-Built Drone That's Been Used In Afghanistan
Using a range of cameras and sensors the uncrewed aircraft system can see things up to 200km away.
https://www.forces.net/news/watchkeeper ... fghanistan

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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (British Army)

Post by Lord Jim »

There are trial linking Watchkeeper to both Wildcat and Apache Guardian that have been fairly successful, with Watchkeeper passing data to both platforms and receiving instructions from at least the Guardian though the same capability is in the future for Wildcat. By the way this was from an article in the public domain in case anyone thinks otherwise.

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (British Army)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Makes sense, the team work, as helicopters have to use the terrain ie. at times stay low down, for their own protection. WK being high-up and scanning for them
- the latter needs a runway, though, unlike the helos
- I guess it has the range/ endurance to compensate for that?
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (British Army)

Post by RunningStrong »

J. Tattersall wrote:
Watchkeeper: All About The UK-Built Drone That's Been Used In Afghanistan
Using a range of cameras and sensors the uncrewed aircraft system can see things up to 200km away.
https://www.forces.net/news/watchkeeper ... fghanistan
Nothing says cutting edge like a 'cutting-edge' system being serviced by a Pinz :lol:

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