Officially opened on 13 July but still in the early stages of construction, the 50-acre (20-Ha) ParcAberporth site is ripe for redevelopment as "a European gateway for inward investment in UAV technologies", says Welsh economic development minister Andrew Davies.

"ParcAberporth provides a unique opportunity to develop the new and rapidly growing UAV industry for both defence and civil applications," says the WDA. The site will draw on strong links with nearby University of Aberystwyth, which specialises in aerospace technology.

Located within an Objective 1 area under the European Union's grant aid mechanism, and therefore suitable for the highest level of regeneration subsidies, the Cardigan Bay area has a heritage of more than 40 years in hosting target drone operations for the UK MoD.

"The defence industry used to be a very significant employer in this part of west Wales but much of that work has gone", says Davies. The MoD site at Aberporth once supported more than 500 high quality jobs but almost 150 were lost in 2002. "The ParcAberporth initiative is a way of building back that prosperity," he adds. The Department of Trade and Industry estimates that UK business holds 13% of the global UAV market. Noting an annual growth rate of more than 12%, Davies says: "Wales is a small, clever country and we are determined to seize the opportunities offered by this cutting edge technology. We want to be a global leader in this sector."

Source: Flight International