QinetiQ has signed an agreement with Llanbedr Airfield Estates (LAE) to further develop enhanced capability for the future unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations in the UK.
Supported by the Welsh Government, the agreement primarily seeks development of the Wales UAS environment as a world-class UAS test and evaluation facility, through incorporation of LAE as an operating centre in north-west Wales.
Expected to serve as the catalyst for the supply of extended UK UAS operating capability in early 2014, the agreement will also enable UAS programme development in support of both defence and civil-related opportunities.
LAE partner Lee Paul said the UAS sector offers significant opportunities and the supply of such an environment will enable Britain 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,'' Paul said.
QinetiQ Air Division strategy director Paul Hearn said: ''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.''
Welsh Government Economy, Science and Transport minister Edwina Hart said: ''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 the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone.''
Along with confirming the Wales UAS environment's dedication to accelerating the UAS industry growth in the UK and beyond, the regeneration of LAE as an operational centre also complements the existing infrastructure and services currently provided by QinetiQ's west Wales UAV Centre (WWUAVC).
LAS, building on the current capability developed and delivered by QinetiQ WWUAVC, will supply enhanced airfield services and access to dedicated infrastructure and airspace already in place through the recent regional government investment.