QinetiQ set to expand UK unmanned aircraft system environment

meteor_U16

QinetiQ and Llanbedr Airfield Estates (LAE) have signed an agreement to further develop the Wales Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Environment, incorporating Llanbedr Airfield in North West Wales as an operating centre which further enhances the UK’s reputation in facility and capability provision for UAS operations.

Edwina Hart, Welsh Government minister for Economy, Science and Transport, said: “The long term strategic vision for Llanbedr is linked to the Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) sector and this teaming agreement announcement today between QinetiQ and Llanbedr Airfield Estates is an important step forward in developing that vision. Llanbedr Airfield has the capacity to significantly increase Wales’ capability in the UAS arena and its strategic importance was acknowledged by the Welsh Government when it was included within the boundaries of Snowdonia Enterprise Zone”.

The QinetiQ and LAE ‘Teaming Agreement’, supported by Welsh Government, is the catalyst to delivering extended UK UAS operating capability in early 2014 and enables UAS programme development in support of both Civil and Defence related opportunities. The regeneration of Llanbedr Airfield as an operational centre for unmanned aviation complements the existing infrastructure and services currently being delivered by QinetiQ’s West Wales UAV Centre (WWUAVC) and affirms the Wales UAS Environment as a unique capability dedicated to accelerating the growth of the UAS industry in the UK and beyond.

Building on the existing capability developed and delivered by the QinetiQ WWUAVC, Llanbedr will provide enhanced airfield services and access to the dedicated infrastructure and airspace already in place through recent regional government investment. Combining the Llanbedr Airfield infrastructure with the experience, knowledge and facilities already available through the QinetiQ WWUAVC, presents access to world leading test and evaluation, demonstration and training capabilities, as well as increased options for permanent operations for future civil UAS opportunities.

Paul Hearn, Air Division Strategy Director, at QinetiQ said; “We are delighted to sign this agreement and be at the forefront of UAS growth in the UK. With QinetiQ’s UAS operations and facility provision expertise, alongside LAE and the support of the Welsh Government, we look forward to further expanding UK UAS capability and consolidating the UK’s ability to remain at the forefront of UAS development.”

Lee Paul, Partner at LAE, said: “We are looking forward to working closely with QinetiQ, along with the Welsh Government, in developing Llanbedr Airfield and enhancing the current Wales UAS environment as a world class UAS test and evaluation facility. The sector offers significant opportunities and the provision of such a unique environment will enable the UK to be at the forefront of this emerging market. We are committed to ensuring the airfield is a catalyst for sustainable economic growth in the region and this is a significant step forward in meeting these aims.”