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Thales, a UAS and surveillance equipment manufacturer, will play an important role in a major UK Royal Navy exercise to be held in October to understand how unmanned systems could offer innovative operational capabilities in a military maritime environment.

According to Naval Technology, the UK Ministry of Defence Exercise Unmanned Warrior will bring the Royal Navy and 40 organisations from defence, industry and academia together, thereby making it the largest exercise of its type.

The exercise, centring around the UK coast of Scotland and West Wales, will see the deployment of more than 50 vehicles, sensors and systems.

At the exercise, Thales will display its Watchkeeper Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), Halcyon Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV), and its collaborative work in the field of unmanned command and control research.

For the first time, the Watchkeeper will fly in a littoral naval environment, operating alongside a Type 23 warship and a merchant vessel. The UAS will be integrated into a series of exercises, ranging from persistent wide area surveillance to supporting landing forces and naval gunfire. Watchkeeper will collect data, which will be streamed down remotely to the vessels and then reviewed by trained operators in order to make better informed command decisions to support the trials exercises.

Equipped with a Thales Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar, the Halcyon USV will participate in several mine-hunting challenges to demonstrate the advantages of autonomous technology in hostile environments. The missions using Halcyon will be planned and coordinated using Thales mission management software for comprehensive command and control of the USV operation.