UK armed forces will launch the new Watchkeeper unmanned air system (UAS) in April 2011, replacing the current fleet of H-450 aircraft.

Watchkeeper will provide enhanced capability to UK forces through electro-optic / infra red (EO/IR) imaging and synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator (SAR/GMTI) capabilities.

The 6.1m-long air vehicle has a maximum payload capacity of 150kg, which include day / night sensors.

The UAS is fitted with global positioning systems, dual computers and dual datalinks to carry out autonomous missions.

Flight and systems trials for the Watchkeeper UAS will shortly begin at Parc Aberporth in west Wales, UK.