QinetiQ has completed a £40 million programme of upgrades at the MOD Hebrides Range in St Kilda, Scotland.

St Kilda provides essential deep range tracking during exercises such as US-led NATO training exercises, At Sea Demonstration/Formidable Shield. The upgrades to the tracking radar and telemetry equipment mean the MOD and its international partners will be able to track assets throughout the depths of the Range, receiving data both accurately and quickly. This is essential for the MOD to take full advantage of the 115,000km² sanitised airspace off the Outer Hebrides, enabling large scale exercises and weapons firings to take place.

The isolated archipelago lies 64 kilometres (40 mi) west-northwest of North Uist in the North Atlantic Ocean and is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It became one of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage locations in 1986, and is one of the few in the world to hold joint status for both its ecological and cultural significance.

Upgrades modernise UK test and evaluations and training facilities

The upgrades are part of the Air Ranges Modernisation Programme and demonstrate QinetiQ’s commitment to modernising the UK’s test and evaluation (T&E) and training facilities to maximise the MOD’s mission preparedness.

The Trials, Evaluation Services and Targets team leader, Ray Drury, who attended the opening ceremony, said: “This event marks the result of a key MOD Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA) investment to provide living accommodation for the staff operating and maintaining the range safety tracking systems here on St Kilda. This achievement is a testament to the commitment from our delivery partner QinetiQ, the National Trust of Scotland and all the contractors who have overcome the most extreme environment in the North Atlantic to deliver this environmentally sympathetic facility.”

Clea Warner, the National Trust for Scotland’s (NTS) General Manager North West and Islands, added: “We’ve been impressed by the way the MOD, QinetiQ and other partners have been determined to replace the facility with a structure that is informed by and compliments St Kilda’s unrivalled setting.”

Growing need for ranges to meet complex defence requirements

The upgrades represent the growing need for Ranges that fit with the increasingly large and complex demands of today’s defence requirements. The work QinetiQ has done is essential to equipping UK defence with the capabilities to deliver the training and support needed for the MOD and our international partners.

St. Kilda is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Special Protection Area, a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interestas well as supporting the largest seabird colony in the north-east Atlantic. QinetiQ worked with NTS to ensure any developments undertaken protected and enhanced its unique and delicate ecology. As part of the drive towards Net-Zero by QinetiQ and the MOD, waste heat is  harnessed from new more efficient electrical generators providing hot water and heating for the accommodation.

Steve Fitz-Gerald, Group Managing Director, Maritime and Land commented “The completed works to St. Kilda are an essential part of our commitment to delivering world leading T&E and training to the MOD and our allies. The enhanced capabilities ensure our armed forces are able to effectively prepare both themselves and their assets against increasingly complex threats.”

QinetiQ manages 16 Ministry of Defence sites across the country as part of the Long Term Partnering Agreement Contract.

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