France’s VSR700 maritime drone flies in operational configuration at sea
The VSR700 performed 80 fully autonomous take-offs and landings from a civil vessel off the west coast of France at the beginning of May.
Airbus Helicopters VSR700 programme head Nicolas Delmas said: ‘This flight test campaign was an important step for the VSR700 programme as it allowed us to validate the excellent performance of the drone in operational conditions, which were representative of its future missions.
‘The VSR700 prototype opened its flight envelope in winds above 40 knots, accumulated eight hours of testing in 14 flights, and made successful landings in several different sea states.’
France’s final FREMM frigate delivered
France progresses naval drone efforts with latest VSR700 testing
Airbus takes step towards autonomous refuelling with A310 MRTT demonstration
The autonomous take-off and landing capabilities of the VSR700 were previously tested from the same vessel using an optionally piloted vehicle based on a modified Guimbal Cabri G2 light helicopter featuring a VSR700-based autonomous take-off and landing (ATOL) system.
The latest test campaign took place with the Système de Drone Aérien pour la Marine (SDAM) demonstrator and validated its capabilities as part of the SDAM study contracted to Naval Group and Airbus in 2017.
A system called DeckFinder is critical to the autonomous take-off and landing capabilities of the VSR700. DeckFinder allows UAVs to launch and recover within an accuracy of 10-20cm in harsh conditions, independently of GPS and in visually degraded conditions.
Other trials in late 2022 and early 2023 from the Levant Island test centre in France tested the capabilities of the drone’s sensors and mission system.
A second VSR700 prototype will perform a maiden flight before testing aboard a French Navy FREMM frigate later this year.
More from Air Warfare
Supplying F-16 jets to Ukraine won't win the war, but adds new causes of concern for Russia
While the question of which Western fighter jet will be ultimately sent to Ukraine now seems settled, how much effect will the F-16's presence have on the conflict?
Turkiye’s strong desire to buy F-16 from US persists, defying previous statements
Turkiye's renewed interest in the long-gestating F-16 deal, despite geopolitical hurdles and a potential ban on adding indigenous weapons, highlights the significance of this strategic acquisition for Ankara's military capabilities.
First C-40A transport aircraft arrive for US Marine Corps
The second US Marine Corps C-40A aircraft is scheduled for delivery in early autumn 2023.
Why the Philippines is still awaiting long-range patrol aircraft after a decade
It is believed that the Philippine Air Force has selected an Israeli solution for its maritime patrol aircraft programme.