Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters to Build Rotary-Wing Drone
Major European Naval Defence player, Naval Group, has announced that the DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) has just awarded a contract for technology development in the field of rotary-wing drones to the Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters consortium. The contract covers de-risking studies ahead of construction of a future tactical helicopter drone demonstrator aboard warships. The demonstration project will lead to trials of the drone launch system, mission system and airborne vehicle, conducted from a French Navy vessel.
The purpose of the contract awarded by the DGA is to identify, deploy and test the technologies necessary for the integration of a tactical drone-system capacity within a heavily armed vessel. It forms part of the preparation of the SDAM (Navy Airborne Drone System), whose entry into service is foreseen for the middle of the next decade on new Intermediate-Size Frigates (FTIs) and other French Navy ships.
The study will help select the principal technologies for the SDAM and the identification of the technical risks necessary for initiating and realising the programme. Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters shall be jointly responsible for the industrial project management and shall coordinate wider input from French industry/sector. To this end, Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters shall act as the programme design authority and shall have Hélicoptères GUIMBAL, Thales Systèmes Aéroportés, Safran E&S and ONERA as their principal subcontractors.
Based on an innovative, versatile, robust and economical helicopter platform, the VSR700 drone system is being developed by Airbus Helicopters to offer its military clients the best possible combination of multi-role performance, reliability and operating costs. This 700-kg drone, derived from a light civilian helicopter, the Cabri G2, benefits from the technical know-how of Airbus Helicopters in certified autonomous flight systems and naval helicopters. The VSR700 can exceed 10 flight hours of operational autonomy with a payload capacity of up to 150 kg, offering performance levels that have, until now, been the reserve of aircraft of a significantly higher category and size.