ParcAberporth is a technology park created on what was Royal Air Force (RAF) station Aberporth, near the village of that name in the county of Ceredigion, Wales. The station was one of two local sites that had been used as a site for a missile range that stretched out for some miles into the nearby Cardigan Bay. This Danger Area still exists and is known as Danger Area D201. Parc Aberporth is the UK's purpose-built testing site for unmanned aircraft. The Parc Aberporth centre was specially developed to test and trial unmanned aircraft, for both military and civilian use.
Aberporth Rocket Projectile Establishment began operation on the site in 1941 during the Second World War. It remained the principal UK live firing testing site for surface-to-air missile development for all branches of the UK military, in addition to the use of other rocket test sites such as Woomera in Australia, and High Down, Isle of Wight and at Spadeadam in Cumbria - the largest RAF base in the UK. It is currently the only site in the UK licensed to fly unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in the UK. Since the RAF left, the testing facilities at nearby Parcllyn, are operated by QinetiQ, and the old RAF camp at Blaenannerch (now recreated as ParcAberporth) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government. Next to ParcAberporth is West Wales Airport and is owned by businessman Ray Mann, who operates West Wales Airport.
ParcAberporth was created by the Welsh Development Agency, (which in 2006, merged in to the Welsh Government) to utilise the facilities and skills in the area. It has been focused as an operational test and evaluation centre for Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). One of the main difficulties in getting a wider acceptance of UAVs in civilian and commercial use has been integrating unmanned flights with existing aviation. Work at ParcAberporth and West Wales Airport has been possible as a 6-nautical-mile (11 km) radius around the airfield has been designated Restricted airspace - Temporary (RA(T)) up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) allowing UAVs to operate without special dispensation.
Since 2004, ParcAberporth is the site for an annual event of exhibition and conference devoted to the UAV industry.
2009 UAV crash
In 2009 a Selex Falco UAV crashed on the site. It was under control of a pilot at the site and landed within the perimeter.
- "VFR Guide". vfrguide.com. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Safety concerns as spy plane crashes at new test centre". Western Mail. 30 September 2009.
- Brian J. Ford ‘Secret Weapons: Death Rays, Doodlebugs and Churchill’s Golden Goose’ Osprey 2013
- C.N. Hill ‘A Vertical Empire: The History of the UK Rocket and Space Programme, 1950-1971’ Imperial College Press 2001
- Wayne D. Cocroft & Roger J.C. Thomas with P.S. Barwell Ed. ‘Cold War: Building for Nuclear Confrontation 1946-1989’ English Heritage 2004
- Opening of a centre of excellence for developing unmanned aircraft http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/mid/4221114.stm
- Protesters from CND Cymru and other groups call for end of military drone testing http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-24018746
- The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) extends the seven mile (11km) zone inland to 46 miles (74km) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-13792325
- Maiden flight of the Watchkeeper, an unmanned military surveillance plane http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8625636.stm
- Elbit one of Israel's largest defence companies with Thales UK - has been awarded an £800m contract for the development of a new defence system known as Watchkeeper http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/mid/7948165.stm