Airbus Defence and Space (DS) has formally opened the Wyndham Airport operating site of its Zephyr 'pseudo-satellite' unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Western Australia.
The opening, announced by the company on 3 December, comes some six months after the site in the remote far north of the territory and the country was chosen due to the largely unrestricted airspace and reliable weather, together with the strong support provided by the regional government.
While the Zephyr programme is headquartered at Farnborough in the UK, this operating site is needed for flight trials.
The Zephyr is designed to operate for up to 45 days at a time at altitudes of up to 70,000 ft to remain clear of the weather and commercial air traffic. Potential payloads include an over-the-horizon communications relay for line-of-sight communications and/or a surveillance payload.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to buy three Zephyrs as part of a wider strategy announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) in 2015 to enhance the nation's airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.