Object of the Month - January 2024

31 January, 2024

VEH 30/447. Desert Hawk III

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) form an important element of the Royal Artillery’s ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) capability. In this respect they are the successors to the early aircraft flown from the Wood Road hangars at Larkhill in 1910, when the use of aeroplanes to observe military movements in the field was first demonstrated during an Army training exercise.

Unmanned aircraft have been used by the Royal Artillery since the 1960s, and our museum collection holds examples of a number of different UAS including the Northrop Falconer, Canadair Midge, Phoenix and Hermes 450. Two different systems are in use with the Regiment today, the large Watchkeeper made by Thales, and the much smaller Desert Hawk III.

Lockheed Martin’s original Desert Hawk was a battery-powered miniature UAS developed in 2002. The Desert Hawk III, developed in 2006, is lighter and more rugged than its predecessor and can fly for one hour to a radius of around fifteen kilometres. Many people are surprised to find that the controller resembles that for an Xbox 360! Desert Hawk III was first used by the Royal Artillery in 2007 and has seen extensive service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In December 2022, the Ministry of Defence announced that it had awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin for two new UAS to replace Desert Hawk III by the end of 2024.


Padre Grafton 104 Regiment RA launching DH3 during training in America.