VSR700’s naval trial

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An artist’s impression of Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters VSR700, which will be tested on French Navy vessels. Airbus Helicopters

The Airbus Helicopters VSR700 is to be flown from Marine Nationale (French Navy) warships in a demonstration aimed at developing a rotarywing tactical UAV capability for French military vessels.

A Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters consortium has recently been awarded a contract by France’s Direction Générale de l’Armement procurement agency covering de-risking studies ahead of construction of a demonstrator.

The contract seeks to identify, deploy and test the technologies necessary to integrate a tactical UAV on a heavily armed vessel, and will lead to trials of the drone launch system, mission system and airborne vehicle (the VSR700) from a Marine Nationale vessel. The trials will form part of preparations to introduce the SDAM (Navy Airborne Drone System) on Marine Nationale frigates and other ships in the mid-2020s.

The VSR700 is based on the Guimbal Cabri G2 light civil helicopter. An optionally piloted prototype flew in June 2017 to validate the integration of the flight control systems and the VSR700’s new engine system. The VSR700’s first flight is scheduled for later in 2018. It is a 700kg (1,543lb) system designed to carry a 150kg (330lb) operational payload and exceed 10 hours of operational autonomy. Mark Broadbent