Yeovil MP welcomes Government's £8 million support for unmanned air system innovation project in Yeovil

Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh today welcomed news of the Government's commitment to spend £8 million over the next two years with Leonardo in Yeovil on research into unmanned rotary aerial vehicles. 

This will enable the U.K. Armed Forces to evaluate their future needs and may in future lead to orders for systems that could be produced in Yeovil for both UK and export markets.

Marcus said

"The Government's commitment to this project shows its determination to give Yeovil the opportunity to be at the centre of rotorcraft design and innovation into the future, and will help support around 300 local design and engineering jobs."

"Together with the £4 million of funding for the iAero manufacturing innovation centre project in Yeovil which I made sure came forward via the Local Enterprise Partnership this week, this is a big boost for our local engineering industries, and I am really pleased that my close work with Ministers on these issues is paying off."

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:  

“Defence is working with partners across the country to harness innovation to keep this country safe and build a prosperous economy for everyone.

Backed by our rising defence budget and £178bn Equipment Plan, this joint research will deliver the understanding our Armed Forces need to maintain our military advantage in the future.”

The jointly funded programme will utilise the specialist engineering skill base at Leonardo Helicopters by exploring emerging rotary wing technologies and methods. It aims to identify, develop and exploit the opportunities offered by emerging technologies, to reduce costs and increase the agility, flexibility, resilience and persistence of UK rotary wing capability. The announcement comes after the Royal Navy led ‘Unmanned Warrior’ in 2016: a major international demonstration of autonomous systems which could transform the way in which the Armed Forces of the future help keep Britain safe.

Chief Executive Officer of the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support Organisation, Tony Douglas, said:

“Investing in innovation is a priority in DE&S and research programmes, such as the Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System, demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our Armed Forces have the best and most advanced equipment and support possible.

“This project also highlights how we collaborate effectively with industry, utilising skills across both organisations to fully understand the emerging capabilities in the unmanned arena.”