Thales has made a major commitment to develop future autonomous and unmanned technology across air and sea by investing $9.5 million in two new UK-based trials and training centres based in West Wales and in South-West England.
The systems designer for the aerospace, defence, transportation and security markets is turning its attention to developing autonomous systems for both military and civil activities following its successful trials during the Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior exercise in 2016.
A new $1.3 million facility in Turnchapel Wharf, Plymouth will be Thales’s maritime autonomy trials and training centre, acting as the key maritime integration, test and evaluation centre for the joint UK and French Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) Programme.
Victor Chavez, CEO of Thales in the UK, said: “Investing in these facilities enables the safe test, evaluation and training of autonomous platforms, innovative research and development, as well as the regulations for military and civil applications. These facilities will be central to the growth of Thales’s future autonomous capability.”
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Central to the growth of Thales’s future, Thales has also signed a five-year agreement with West Wales Airport (WWA) which will continue to deliver the Watchkeeper programme to the British Army and to expand the innovative test, development and training of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).
Thales has committed $7.9 million to the West Wales facility over the next two years.
The commitment to these facilities builds on Thales’s leadership in autonomous systems and strengthens the position of UK industry in this emerging market.
Harriett Baldwin, Minister for Defence Procurement, said: “Whether in the air or the sea, the UK is leading the way when it comes to autonomous systems. Thales’ announcement today is yet another example of that, and another way in which this innovation is supporting jobs right across the country.”