Mr Fallon visited SeeByte, a leading software SME and Finmeccanica Airborne and Space Systems Division, Edinburgh, a Defence electronics, communications and radar company.
SeeByte provides the MOD with state of the art software that pilots its underwater unmanned vehicles (UUVs). The firm, which employs 61 people, was awarded a £1.1 million contract in December 2014 by the MOD, and has since integrated its software onto three Iver3 underwater unmanned vehicles, which are undergoing trials. SeeByte received funding in 2012 through MOD’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), which aims to remove barriers for innovative small companies to enter the defence supply chain.
Finmeccanica Airborne and Space Systems Division is currently working with the MOD on current and future radar programmes for the Typhoon fighter aircraft. This includes a contract to develop the latest type of radar system – known as E-scan – which is sustaining around 500 jobs at the site in Edinburgh.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
Britain’s defence relies on Scottish brainpower. We’re backing that brainpower by increasing the defence budget every year of this decade, meeting the NATO 2 per cent spending commitment and investing £800m in innovation.
Together with our pilots at Lossiemouth, our submariners at Faslane and the Army regiments, that puts Scotland right at the heart of the nation’s defences.
The visit follows the launch by the government of an £800m innovation fund, to harness the entrepreneurship and ingenuity of the private sector so the UK can maintain an operational edge over adversaries.
SeeByte CEO, Dr Bob Black said:
At SeeByte we were delighted to be given the opportunity to host the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon and to be recognised as the UK’s leading player in the field of maritime autonomous systems.
We are very proud of the work we have conducted with the UK MOD, and we look forward to continue this working relationship to enhance the future autonomy of unmanned maritime robotic platforms.
Managing Director of Finmeccanica Airborne and Space Systems Division, Edinburgh, Norman Bone, added:
I am delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to our Edinburgh site. We are proud of our support to the UK’s Armed Forces, and of the innovative way we develop advanced technology to make sure it’s available where and when our customers need it. Our systems are an essential part of the future on all types of operations.
In Finmeccanica, our commitment to investment in the UK’s defence and security sector is seen in our research, in developing our people, and in the partnerships we build with companies across the UK and in export.