Culpeper Star-Exponent: MITRE opens drone range in Orange County


A national security contractor for the U.S. military hosted a grand opening of its new drone testing facility Monday in Orange County.

The MITRE Drone Range is located in the Thomas E. Lee Industrial Park off of James Madison Highway, close to the company’s Charlottesville site and lab. This is home to MITRE invented UAV and Robotics capabilities, according to event publicity.

“The drone range is a proving ground for us and our government partners to develop, test, and evaluate the newest technological advances for commercial and proprietary robotics, communications, autonomous systems, drones, and counter-drone systems,” according to a release.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, gave remarks at the grand opening along with Jeffrey Vincent, Executive Director, UAS Integration Office with the Federal Aviation Administration.

“As someone with a background in national security, I understand how critical these technologies are for the future of our country and the future safety of our communities,” Spanberger said in a post after. “This expansion will help strengthen our Commonwealth’s standing as a leader in drone research, provide unique capabilities to keep our nation safe, and support new jobs for Virginians.”

Participating in a public safety panel on drone responders, moderated by Chief Charles Werner were Orange County Sheriff Mark Amos, Chief Nathan Mort, County of Orange Fire and EMS Chief and Sheriff Mike Chapman, 2023 NSA Sheriff of the Year.

Additional remarks were from Beth Meinert, Senior Vice President and General Manager, MITRE Public Sector, Yosry Barsoum, Vice President and Director, MITRE’s Center for Securing the Homeland, Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Lee Frame and Helen Cauthen, President, Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development.

Lunch was catered by L&J’s BBQ, located in the Town of Orange.

The event ended with live flights including high-speed racing drones, autonomous swarm drones, large chemical sprayer drone, long flight time drones, package and nefarious delivery drones, and vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing drones.

There were demos on terrestrial drones from small robots to autonomous trucks, static displays of cutting-edge drone technology from MITRE’s Matrix and MASE Laboratories, and exhibitors including Zephyr Drone Simulator, AeroVigilance, Event 38 Unmanned Systems, Red Six Solutions, and more.

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