Elements of the Army’s Tactical Unmanned Air Systems (TUAS) Regiment, 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, are currently deployed in Ascension Island, in the South Atlantic, conducting training on Watchkeeper, the Army’s new UAS system.
Watchkeeper delivers timely and high quality imagery intelligence to the tactical commander on the battlefield. This imagery intelligence is critical in enabling commanders to reduce battlefield risk and make more informed battle winning decisions. The programme aims to train 16 pilots for the first operational battery over 2016.
Wideawake Airfield on Ascension Island offers ideal conditions for UAS training. Supported by soldiers from 74 Support Battery Royal Artillery and instructors from the Royal School of Artillery, preparations for the first course students to arrive are almost complete.
The Battery Commander, Major Andy Carter, is eager for their arrival, he said: “The assured weather, availability of airspace and uncongested runway of Wideawake Airfield make Ascension Island an excellent environment to conduct pilot training.”
The pilot course started in January and so far the students have undergone a phase of manned flying, a theory package delivered at the bespoke Watchkeeper Training Facility, in Larkhill, and flying in the Larkhill-based simulator facility. This rigorous training programme will ensure that when the pilots arrive in Ascension Island they are ready make every moment of live flying count.
After completion of the course the TUAS pilots will man a frontline Watchkeeper battery that will be held at readiness to deploy across the globe in a range of situations from disaster relief to warfighting.