France orders second VSR700 unmanned helicopter prototype

by Gareth Jennings

France has ordered a second prototype of the VSR700 unmanned helicopter demonstrator that Naval Group is developing alongside Airbus Helicopters.

An artist’s impression of Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters VSR700 shipborne UAV.  (Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters)

An artist’s impression of Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters VSR700 shipborne UAV. (Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters)

Announced by Airbus on 15 April, the move is intended to further the effort to fly the VSR700 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from a French Navy vessel under the Système de Drone Aérien de la Marine (SDAM) programme, or Navy Airborne Drone System in English.

“The VSR700 is also a crucial programme. It will provide the French Navy with a highly capable autonomous platform and it will pave the way for future unmanned systems within the Airbus Helicopters portfolio,” Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even said.

As previously revealed by Airbus Helicopters, the VSR700 is essentially a Hélicoptères Guimbal Cabri G2 light helicopter that has been fitted with autonomous technologies that include a sense-and-avoid capability. While no performance specifications for the VSR700 have been disclosed, the Cabri G2, on which it is based, is powered by a 180 hp Lycoming O-360 piston engine (derated to 145 hp), has a gross weight of 700 kg, a maximum speed of 185 km/h, a range of 700 km, and a service ceiling of just under 13,000 ft.

Airbus has noted that the VSR700 will have a maximum take-off weight of between 500 kg and 1,000 kg and that the VSR700 operator will supervise the flight plan rather than flying the aircraft itself. “It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance, and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate from existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint,” the company said.

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/france-orders-second-vsr700-unmanned-helicopter-prototype

France has ordered a second prototype of the VSR700 unmanned helicopter demonstrator that Naval Grou...

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