Airbus Helicopters and the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) have tested the VSR700 helicopter drone for the first time in an operational configuration from a ship at sea.
During the flight campaign that took place in early May 2023, the VSR700 performed 80 fully autonomous take-offs and landings from a civil vessel equipped with a helicopter deck, cruising off the coast of Brittany in the west of France.
“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,” said Nicolas Delmas, head of the VSR700 program at Airbus Helicopters. “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.”
The VSR700 is a helicopter drone capable of being deployed from warships. It was commissioned by the French Navy and is derived from the Cabri G2 light helicopter, built by Guimbal. Its requirements are to fly up to eight hours with a range of approximately 150 kilometers.
For testing purposes, the VSR700 prototype was fitted with a maritime surveillance radar, an AIS receiver [used to locate ships – ed. Note], and an optronic pod optimized for use in the marine environment.
A second prototype is now expected to conduct more flight testing onboard a French Navy multi-mission frigate (FREMM).