The VSR700 performed several take-offs and landings on Friday 8th of November with the longest flight lasting around ten minutes, the company announced on its Tweeter feed:
An unmanned derivative of the Gimbal Helicopters Cabri G2 platform, the VSR700 has a maximum take-off weight between 500 and 1000 kg, Airbus stated. The VSR700 capabilities are not officially known, but is expected to « automatically land and take-off, fly for ten hours at 100 Nm and carry 100 kilos of payload, i.e. radar and optronics, » explained the French Navy Chief-of-Staff admiral Christophe Prazuck Navy Prazuck in July, while talking about the SDAM program ( Système de Drone Aérien pour la Marine) which calls for a medium size VTOL UAV to be deployed from surface combatants.
“This first flight of the VSR700 prototype is a major milestone for the programme as we make progress on the operational demonstrator for the French Navy that will perform trials in 2021 in partnership with Naval Group.”Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO
During this new test flights, the VSR700 was tethered with 30-metre cables to fully secure the flight test zone. « The next steps of the test campaign will allow to move to autonomous free flight, then gradually open the drone flight envelope, » according to Airbus Helicopters. At sea testing is expected to take place in 2021 and will involve a French Navy vessel and a VSR700 operational demonstrator.
The VSR700 prototype which has just performed its maiden flight is a step change from the optionally piloted demonstrator that first flew in 2017. The variant which took flight today was for the first time fitted with specific avionics and flight controls, a payload bay, and a more aerodynamic profile to improve flight performance.
The VSR700 is being pitched by Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group for the French Navy’s « Système de drone aérien pour la Marine » (SDAM) program, normally scheduled for 2028.