The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a contract to Lockheed for additional Desert Hawk III unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV).

The 8lb Desert Hawk III UAV features an open architecture environment with enhanced 360° infrared and 360°, 10× zoom electro optics, with snap-on plug imaging playloads, a portable ground station and a remote video terminal.

UK MoD defence equipment and support (DE&S) programme manager Duncan Robbins said the new payloads provided enhanced capabilities to the vehicle and The British Army.

“Desert Hawk’s latest enhancements allow it to operate more effectively in difficult conditions and provide our soldiers with greater situational awareness in a timely manner,” he said.

Lockheed’s ship and aviation systems vice-president Mark Swymeler said the Desert Hawk III could operate in high winds, extended altitude and extreme temperatures, such as in Afghanistan.

“Unlike some other UAVs, it is extremely quiet and virtually undetectable beyond 150m,” he said.

The $5m vehicle order is scheduled to be delivered by late 2010.