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SDAM demonstrator completes at-sea trials from French FREMM frigate

At-sea trials of the VSR700/SDAM were undertaken from the frigate Provence between 2 and 9 October. (Naval Group)

Airbus Helicopters, Naval Group, and France's Direction générale de l'armement (DGA) procurement agency have completed a first trial of the Airbus VSR700 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) from a French Navy multimission frigate (Frégate multimission: FREMM).

Conducted from the Aquitaine-class ship Provence in early October, the week-long test campaign was designed to demonstrate and de-risk the technical solution being developed under the Système de Drone Aérien pour la Marine (SDAM) programme. SDAM is intended to meet the French Navy's requirement for a maritime tactical UAS to operate from its new Amiral Ronarc'h-class frigates.

Based on the civil-certified Hélicoptères Guimbal Cabri G2 two-seat helicopter, the VSR700 is a 700 kg multipayload VTOL UAS designed to offer an endurance of around eight hours at 100 n miles. The mission fit specific to the SDAM application includes the Diadès C-Ranger 200 X-band maritime surveillance radar, an L3Harris Wescam MX-10 electro-optic/infrared turret, and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver.

The at-sea trials on Provence were undertaken in the Mediterranean Sea between 2 and 9 October, said Airbus in a 31 October statement. Prior to the demonstration, Naval Group had embodied a package of modifications in the ship – including Naval Group's own I4Drones mission system and the Airbus-developed DeckFinder precision landing aid – to enable both the physical and functional ship/air integration.

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