1. ITV Report

Somerset manufacturer awarded £8m grant to research army helicopter drones

The Government says it's working with a Somerset helicopter manufacturer to help develop helicopter drones for the armed forces.

Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil has been awarded £8 million to conduct the research.

A Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter in flight over Glastonbury Tor. Credit: MOD

The two year development programme will explore how unmanned aircraft can be used in war zones.

It's hoped the Rotary Wing Unmanned Air Systems (RWUAS) will help support armed forces personnel on the battlefields, by developing new concepts and technologies.

Leonardo's base in Yeovil. Credit: ITV News West Country
grant given to Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon. Credit: PA

The Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon says it will help maintain the country's military advantage.

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.

– Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon

The jointly funded programme will utilise the specialist engineering skill base at Leonardo Helicopters by exploring emerging rotary wing technologies and methods.

Investing in the Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System, demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our Armed Forces have the best and most advanced equipment and support possible.

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