By Peter la Franchi in London

West Wales’s unpredictable weather permitting, this year’s ParcAberporth Unmanned Systems exhibition on 7 July could see a flurry of unmanned air vehicles take to the skies over the technology park and airfield. Last year, rain scuppered most of the flying display and the weather, in one of the UK’s wettest areas, will again be crucial to the event’s success. At least seven companies have applied to the UK Civil Aviation Authority for approval to fly this year, although most of the UAVs will be in the small or mini categories.

  • Aerovironment wants to fly three hand-launched systems, including its Raven and Puma Blue Bear, and two small UAVs, which will have advanced artificial intelligence incorporated into the flight data and mission system suite;
  • Selex could give its new-generation Falco UAV its UK debut;
  • EADS is looking to give another ParcAberporth airing to its Scorpio rotary-wing mini-UAV;
  • Vincourt’s Nitrohawk vertical take-off UAV took part in last year’s static display, but may fly this year;
  • Israel Aircraft Industries is likely to fly its Skylark mini-UAV;
  • UK-based Meggitt will feature its Banshee target drone, a staple of the air defence training market.

Hermes 450 
The hermes 450 - the star in 2005 - is a notable absentee this year

One notable absentee will be Elbit, which flew the Hermes 450 last year, but is not returning this year partly because of what it believes is the slow progress in getting the UK Army’s Watchkeeper UAV-based surveillance programme mobilised. The Hermes 450 will provide the platform for the system.

Source: Flight International