Airbus is reportedly close to conducting the first autonomous flight of its VSR700 vertical takeoff unmanned aerial systems (VTUAS).
The aircraft is a 700kg unmanned development of the manned Guimbal Cabri G2 light helicopter, and is designed for the maritime UAS market for employment from surface vessels or for land-based operations. An optionally-piloted flight was conducted in 2017 using a converted G2.
The VSR700 has a payload of 100kg of sensors including EO/IR and radar and can be fitted with a heavy fuel or diesel engine. It has a length of 6.2m, height of 2.2m and a rotor diameter of 7.2m.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Eurosatory trade show in Paris in early June, Airbus executives said they hoped to commence customer deliveries in 2022.
Earlier this year the French Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) awarded a contract to Airbus and the Naval Group to develop a new maritime tactical unmanned helicopter demonstrator based on the VSR700.
The contract will initially cover de-risking studies, and will lead to the development of a demonstrator for trials of the air vehicle, mission systems and launch/recovery systems aboard ship, and will inform the French Airborne Drone System (SDAM) project which aims to field a VTUAS capability aboard the French navy’s new Intermediate-Size Frigates (FTIs) and other vessels from the mid to late 2020s.