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Thales has secured a £80m contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to support the Watchkeeper unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

The support contract has been awarded as part of the UK Government’s ten-year, £178bn equipment plan.

Currently in service with the British Army, Watchkeeper provides real-time, improved situational awareness for troops on the ground, thereby reducing risk and loss of life.

"Watchkeeper is a valuable asset to the UK Armed Forces and Thales is proud to continue the support we have provided to the British Army."

Thales defence mission systems executive vice-president Pierre Eric Pommellet said: "Watchkeeper is a valuable asset to the UK Armed Forces and Thales is proud to continue the support we have provided to the British Army.

"The future support contract will optimise the performance and support to Watchkeeper, ensuring the UK Armed Forces remain flexible and agile to respond to future operational demands."

Under the contract, the company will provide technical support to the UAS, as well as additional capacity for training in order to generate operational capability.

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The contract will also see the company providing training solution designs, updates to training courseware, and additional instructional capacity for pilot and mission system operators, maintainers and support crew.

Additionally, Thales will provide direct maintenance support, which includes sending trained personnel to enhance the army’s front-line engineering capacity.

The deal also covers responsive technical query service, maintenance and updates of technical documentation and supply support, as well as repair and deep storage maintenance for the equipment held in reserve.

The contract will support close to 160 engineering jobs at Crawley, Leicester, Bristol and Boscombe Down locations, in UK.

Image: Thales to provide technical support to Watchkeeper UAS. Photo: courtesy of Thales Group.