The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded Qinetiq a contract worth up to £5m to deliver a critical part of the £800m Watchkeeper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programme.
The contract includes carrying out airborne test and evaluation schemes at ParcAberporth, west Wales and the adjoining MOD Aberporth air range over the next 18 months.
Ground based work will also be conducted using Qinetiq operated facilities at Boscombe Down to enable a range of pre-flight activity including environmental and electromagnetic compatibility testing.
This work is said to support and augment wider UAV development programmes currently being investigated by Qinetiq, the MOD, and other industry partners.
The contract will be administered through the West Wales UAV Centre, which was established last year by Qinetiq and West Wales Airport to deliver UAV support services for civil and military customers.
‘Selecting a commercial airport as the ‘home’ of the programme means we can deliver and extend our UAV knowledge and further develop both our and industry’s understanding of concurrent manned and unmanned aircraft operations – a topic crucial to the future development of UAV’s in the world today,’ said Peter Tanner, MD for Qinetiq’s Systems Evaluation Services business.
The Watchkeeper project is designed to provide UK armed forces with specialised surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.