QinetiQ's VAAC Harrier team wins prestigious Royal Aeronautical Society Gold Medal

11 Jan 2010

In the Centenary year of the of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Medals & Awards, the QinetiQ Vectored-thrust Aircraft Advanced Control (VAAC) Harrier team received a Team Gold Medal - the world’s most prestigious and long-standing aerospace awards for achievement, innovation and excellence.

The Gold Medal was awarded to the QinetiQ team for development and flight test activities that have prototyped guidance, control and automatic landing systems for the Short Take-Off & Vertical Landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter and for its development of the Shipboard Rolling Vertical Landing technique for recovery to the Future Carrier.

The awards were presented on the 10th December at the Society’s headquarters in London W1 at the 98th Wilbur & Orville Wright Lecture, which was delivered by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton on ‘Air Power in Ages of Austerity’. Amanda Wright-Lane, the closest living relative of Orville and Wilbur Wright, being the great grand niece of the eldest brother, was also the Guest of Honour.

The first Royal Aeronautical Society’s Gold Medal went to the Wright Brothers in 1909. Other notable past Gold Medal recipients include Sir Frank Whittle, Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, Sir Sydney Camm and Sir Frederick Handley Page. The Team Gold Medal was first awarded in 2004 to the SpaceShipOne Team and subsequently to the Airbus A380 Wing Design Team.

Colin Paterson, Chief Engineer for the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) programme, praised the VAAC Team for “An exceptional contribution to the success to date of the JCA” and further added that “the team has played a very significant part in the development of the Carrier Strike capability scheduled to be introduced to UK Service by JCA and the Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers.”

The QinetiQ VAAC team in front of the aircraft. (Left to right): Justin Paines, Trevor Hartwell, Jeremy Howitt, Fred Scorer, James Roberts, Richard Watson, Richard Burger, Jon Vendy, Tony Cann, Dave Nash, Lt Cdr Chris Gotke RN. Absent were: Andrew Rockley, Luke Gillett and Glen D’Mello.

QinetiQ also recognised in New Year Honours

A joint QinetiQ and MOD team, that represents a cross-section of people involved in delivering important UOR work, also received a commendation from Air Vice-Marshal Garwood, HQ Air Command’s Chief Of Staff Operations (COS Ops), in the Queen's New Year Honours List. The commendation was in recognition of the work undertaken on Tornado Urgent Operational Requirements in support of Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan (April 08 to Sept 09).

The citation for the commendation describes: "The Tornado Team was key to ensuring the completion of essential trials activities within the accelerated timelines dictated by the MOD, thus ensuring that capability enhancements were cleared within the Operation HERRICK deployment timescales. Feedback from theatre has confirmed the vital importance of this work - these capabilities have undoubtedly preserved the lives of aircrews and ground forces and significantly enhanced operational capability. Personnel have devoted long days and weekends to the work and several have cancelled holidays to conduct essential flight trials. There was a consistent theme of 'can do, will do' and 'collaborative teamworking' with other industry stakeholders throughout the Team."

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QinetiQ's VAAC Harrier team wins prestigious Royal Aeronautical Society Gold Medal