Lockheed Martin has received a contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to support the Desert Hawk 3 small unmanned aerial system (UAS) and establish it as a core defence capability.
Weighing 8lb, Desert Hawk 3 is a battery-powered UAS used to gather intelligence, and provide reconnaissance and surveillance. It achieved full operating capability last month.
Lockheed Martin Unmanned Solutions business development director Jay McConville said: "Desert Hawk’s maturity and proven performance, as well as the enhanced capabilities now available, make it a crucial asset on the modern battlefield.
"We look forward to continuing this record of success through the award of the Desert Hawk Core Support Programme, and we continue to enhance its capabilities based on user feedback."
The hand-launched platform is said to have logged out more than 30,000 hours, under austere conditions, to support critical mission needs such as enhanced situational awareness, security and counter-improvised explosive device operations, threat detection, as well as route reconnaissance and battle damage assessment.
UK Defence Minister Philip Dunne said: "Desert Hawk has proved its worth on operations in Afghanistan, providing our Armed Forces with vital intelligence and allowing our commanders to stay one step ahead of the enemy.
"We recognise that unmanned and remotely-piloted air systems are increasingly important in today’s operational environment, and our protected Defence budget and GBP160bn investment in equipment has allowed us to bring Desert Hawk into our core programme."
Lockheed recently upgraded Desert Hawk 3 to the Desert Hawk 3.1 configuration by providing simplified launch, deep stall landing, all- environment capability, longer endurance, updated sensor payloads and operation using its mobile ground control system.
Capable of flying for up to 90 minutes with a 2lb payload, Desert Hawk has been used by the US to perform reconnaissance and recovery missions in support of its war on terror.
Image: A soldier launches Desert Hawk 3 small unmanned aerial system. Photo: © 2015 Lockheed Martin Corporation.