VSR700 will fly off French Navy frigates. 15 "SDAM" systems have been order with deliveries starting in 2028.
A few weeks ago, the VSR700 demonstrator achieved a test flight that pushed its speed limit to 60kts (more than 110km/h), entirely opening its flight envelope at low speed. At the end of the test, the demonstrator had accumulated more than 10 flight hours. Thanks to this milestone, the VSR700 programme is getting closer to its goal: providing the French Navy with a sea-demonstration-compatible Unmanned Aerial System (UAS).
According to Airbus, since the first stages of the test campaign (which consisted in captive test flights) the program has made good progress, with the first fully autonomous take-off and landing over a moving platform late last year. The company is now focused on securing the flight performances and expanding the flight envelope of the aircraft. Sea trials with the French Navy are set to take place in mid-2022.
About VSR700 Naval VTOL UAV
The VSR700 has been selected as the demonstrator for the for the French Navy’s “Système de Drone Aérien pour la Marine” or SDAM programme. According to the French military planning law (LPM), 15 SDAM systems are set to be delivered to the French Navy from 2028. They will be deployed aboard the future frigates of the French Navy, the FDI as well as the FREMM.
A first SDAM demonstrator is currently being prepared through a de-risking contract signed at the end of 2017. This contract signed by Airbus and Naval Group also involves French SME and in particular Hélicoptères Guimbal, which produces the Cabri G2 helicopter, from which the SDAM is derived. An additional SDAM demonstrator was ordered last year. This second VSR700 will enable the programme to further secure the next steps, and in particular the development of technologies and the refinement of specifications to meet the French Navy’s operational requirements.
The VSR700 made its maiden flight on November 8. 2019 at the Aix-en-Provence drone test center (south of France). Several test captive flights were successfully performed on an enhanced version of the UAV.
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.