MoD launch investigation after Watchkeeper drone crashes near Salisbury Plain

It is the third incident to befall the controversial the £1.2bn Watchkeeper strong fleet since it entered service last year

Jamie Merrill
Wednesday 04 November 2015 18:57
Watchkeeper drones are controlled by radio signals
Watchkeeper drones are controlled by radio signals

The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation after a £1m Watchkeeper drone crashed at a facility near Salisbury Plain, the third such accident in the last year.

The British Army-operated surveillance drone crashed on 2 November and suffered extensive damage when it crashed during a routine training sortie on the runway at the Boscombe Down facility in southern England, the MoD has admitted.

There were no injuries in the incident, however it is the third incident to befall the controversial the £1.2bn Watchkeeper strong fleet since it entered service last year, after an aircraft was written off at West Wales Airport in November 2014 and another aircraft suffered minor damage at Roberts Barracks in April.

The crash comes at an embarrassing time for the MoD after it was revealed last month that the 54-strong Watchkeeper fleet, which was commissioned in 2005, but entered service four years late and £400m over budget, has only completed six days of active duty after a decade in development.

Despite concerns over the project the unmanned aircraft recently made history as the first drone to fly alongside a manned plane in civilian airspace.

Unlike other drone models, such as the Reaper and Predator, which are operated by satellite, Watchkeeper in controlled by radio signals and requires nearby troops on the ground in order to function.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in