Thales2010-04-12 14:42:18

UK Hermes 450 (H-450) tops 30,000 flight hours in theatre

The UK Hermes 450 (H-450) fleet of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) have now flown more than 30,000 operational hours - over 2000 sorties – and is providing the lions’ share of air¬borne ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) supporting UK forces in current operations.

Thales UK’s ISTAR service-provision contract began in July 2007 in response to an Urgent Operational Requirement (UoR) contract issued by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), and will run through to contract completion in October 2010 which could potentially be extended until April 2011 when the H-450s will be phased out as the newly developed Watchkeeper unmanned air system (UAS) delivers frontline capability.

Watchkeeper will provide enhanced capability, including electro-optic / infra red (EO / IR) imaging, and synthetic aperture radar / ground moving target indicator (SAR / GMTI) capabilities. Flight and systems trials in the UK, at Parc Aberporth in West Wales, are due to commence soon.

Alex Dorrian, CEO Thales UK, says: “Over the last few years the value of the H-450 UAS in providing crucial ISTAR capability to the UK Armed Forces has been well and truly confirmed. Building on lessons learnt on current operations, Watchkeeper will also soon be an invaluable asset for commanders on the ground."

Thales UK is the prime contractor for the MoD’s two tactical unmanned air systems programmes: the H-450 fleet that Thales UK owns and leases to the MoD under an innovative ‘ISTAR-by-the-hour’ contract; and the more capable Watch¬keeper system that will be MoD owned and run.

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