December 12, 2007 QinetiQ has been awarded a five million pound contract by the UK Ministry of Defense to conduct a series of airborne tests and evaluations for the 800 million pound Watchkeeper UAV programme. The tests will be held over the next 18 months at ParcAberporth and the adjoining MOD Aberporth air range, and pre-flight activity environmental and electromagnetic compatibility testing will be held at QinetiQ operated facilities at MOD Boscombe Down.
The Watchkeeper WK40 contract was awarded to the Thales Group in 2005, and is designed to provide the UK armed forces with a specialized surveillance and reconnaissance UAV for weather, intelligence, and target acquisition. It will be evaluated by QinetiQ in the unique environment of West Wales. The announcement of the evaluation contract follows 15 months of promotion and planning by a team comprising QinetiQ, West Wales Airport and the Welsh Assembly Government, and culminated in detailed negotiations with the MOD’s Tactical UAV Integrated Project Team.
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"Selecting a commercial airport as the ‘home’ of the program 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," explained Peter Tanner, MD for QinetiQ’s Systems Evaluation Services business.