The Armed Forces’ first remote air traffic control tower has gone up above a Royal Navy airfield in Cornwall.

The new structure stands beside the existing control building at Predannack, a former second world fighter base on the Lizard peninsula and now a training airfield for nearby Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.

The system, built in partnership with aerospace company Saab, uses a suite of high-resolution cameras on top of the new tower which offer a 360-degree view across the entire airfield. The next phase of work, to install sensors on the ground, is now underway to complete the project in the new year.

It means Royal Navy air traffic controllers and personnel can monitor and manage the site remotely. The cameras and sensors feed data to a new control hub back at RNAS Culdrose.

The Royal Navy’s Commander (Air) Jonathan Bird, who is responsible for flying operations at RNAS Culdrose, said: “This new system will give us greater flexibility and allow us deliver safe aviation in a more agile and innovative way.

“It will allow us to oversee the whole of Predannack from our air traffic control tower at Culdrose. From a safety point of view, we will still have military personnel on the ground, as the airfield needs to maintain a fire and rescue capability.

“However, this innovative system will free up our resources and mean controllers can work efficiently together in one place using this latest technology to our advantage.”

Predannack is regularly used by RNAS Culdrose for training Merlin Mk2 helicopter crews and naval aircraft handlers as well as being a centre of excellence in the research of remotely-piloted air systems.

Funding for the project was provided by the Defence Innovation Fund to the Royal Navy’s Discovery, Assessment and Rapid Exploitation Team, which looks at ways of using new technology to provide sustainable operations to the navy.