The DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) has just awarded a contract for technology development in the field of rotary-wing drones to the Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters consortium. The contract covers de-risking studies ahead of construction of a future tactical helicopter drone demonstrator aboard warships. The 700-kg drone is derived from a light civilian helicopter, Guimbal’s Cabri G2. An autonomous flight campaign began in June 2017 using an unmanned Cabri G2 prototype to validate the integration of the flight control systems and the vehicle’s new engine system, opening the way for the first flight of the VSR700 in 2018. The demonstration project will lead to trials of the drone launch system, mission system and airborne vehicle, conducted from a French Navy vessel. The purpose of the contract awarded by the DGA is to identify, deploy and test the technologies necessary for the integration of a tactical drone-system capacity within a heavily armed vessel. It forms part of the preparation of the SDAM (Navy Airborne Drone System), whose entry into service is foreseen for the middle of the next decade on new Intermediate-Size Frigates (FTIs) and other French Navy ships. The study will help select the principal technologies for the SDAM and identify any technical risks involved in launching the program. The level of technological maturity sought is that of a demonstrator of the complete system in a representative environment. Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters will combine their expertise and know-how in the naval and aeronautic fields to prepare the French Navy’s future rotary-wing drone system. To this end, Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters will have design authority, with Hélicoptères Guimbal, Safran, Thales and ONERA as their main subcontractors.
13 March 2018
26 October 2017