A Nazi-built aerodrome in northwestern Spain is to become one of Europe’s only installations dedicated to drone research.
The Spanish Ministry of Defence, who along with Galicia’s regional government are stumping up €55 million for the facility, is strongly denying the base will become a secret military site but admitted to El País:
“It could prove difficult to prevent the companies chosen to take part from using the results of their studies for eventual military purposes.”
The Rozas aerodrome in Castro de Rei was built in 1943 by the Nazis, who chose the location because of its proximity to the coast.
The Rozas Aero Transport Centre (CIAR), as it became known on Tuesday, will be a base for multinational companies to conduct research into drones and how the unmanned flying machines can be best used for commercial purposes.
It will put Galicia “at the cutting edge” of drone research, the president of Galicia’s regional government Alberto Núñez Feijóo told regional newspaper La Voz de Galicia.
Despite the fact that the airfield will be used for commercial and civilian drones, several of the firms that have already presented bids to rent the space also have defence contracts, according to El País.
Drones are used more and more these days in commercial contexts: from bakeries planning to deliver their bread straight to your door, to town councils using the flying objects to increase security at large public events.
But critics of the new plan for the airfield question why do much public money is being pumped into multinationals, who could end up testing military drones.
In September the head of Galicia’s regional government was criticized after denying the Rozas aerodrome was used to test Israeli military drones.
The airfield cannot be used purely for military purposes because part of its funding comes from the Galician regional government, which does not have a defence budget, and part from the European Union.
In August the Spanish Military announced it would spend €171 million on four unmanned aircraft and the infrastructure to support them in order to boost its military surveillance capability.