NAS Patuxent River August 27, 2014 - The University of Maryland (UMD) cut the ribbon on its new unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport in California, Maryland, Aug. 5.
UMD named former Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) vice commander, Matt Scassero, the director of the new test site. His mission is to safely and responsibly integrate and advance UAS. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS Test Site program selected the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership — which includes Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey — to help integrate UAS into national airspace.
Located less than 12 miles from the command’s headquarters at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, the test site offers potential for a collaborative environment to advance UAS technology.
“Our existing relationship with the University of Maryland serves as the foundation of this new test site,” said Vice Adm. David Dunaway, commander of NAVAIR. “The sharing of human capital and expertise from the university, government and industry will be a conduit for technology transfer, and the overall betterment of national security.”
The test site will deliver products and programs in support of workforce development and higher education while it serves as a hub focusing the capabilities of the people and infrastructure in the area. These activities will provide new opportunities for the Southern Maryland region.
“This new addition to the St. Mary’s County Technology Corridor is the first step toward a larger autonomous research initiative in the region,” said Maryland Delegate John Bohanan, Jr. “The test site represents the next big transformation of our Southern Maryland economy, and will offer up new job opportunities for Maryland residents.”
The UAV industry is rapidly growing with a current global market estimated at $6.4 billion yearly, according to aerospace consultancy The Teal Group. They project that number will nearly double to $11.5 billion by 2024.
“What we hope to do is to take advantage of that considerable investment,” Dunaway said. “This is a very exciting day for the U.S. Navy, and I look forward to working with everyone involved.”