€50m plan to upgrade naval base for drone landings
A €50M development planned for Ireland's naval base will allow non-manned planes or 'drones' to land.
Defence Minister Simon Coveney said the work underway at Haulbowline, Cork will create a new technology 'cluster' at the base that will help test new technologies.
"What's happening is a first. I am not sure there is any naval service in the world doing what we are doing," said Mr Coveney.
"The naval force is working with the National Maritime College, with the IMERC (the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Centre) campus and working with a series a series of companies who are using the naval infrastructure we have to test new technologies."
Asked what the new drone technology would do, he said: 'I's too early to talk about what they can deliver.
"At the moment we are talking about the development of the technologies," he said.
"It's part of the innovation programme and the design programme."
Mr Coveney said if the new drone technology worked then it would reduce "the amount of sea miles ships would have to do because if you are observing with a drone as well as a ship that can allow you to patrol in a more efficient way in a very wide area."
He said their application would be on both land and sea and he said their role would "absolutely" be tied into the defence of Ireland's vast tapped and untapped resources.
The minister also pointed out the size of Ireland being a factor in the need for more advanced technology into the future.
He said the new development would be of major benefit to the naval service. "They will have cutting edge technology, whether it's communications, whether it's unmanned aircraft, whether it's kite technology in terms of powering ships.
"They are the kind of innovations and technologies that the naval service is now involved in developing with private sector companies."