First autonomous flight of a promising helicopter-type UAV for the French Navy [video]

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PARIS, (BM) – The European concern Airbus announced the first autonomous flight of a prototype of a promising helicopter-type reconnaissance UAV VSR700, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

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As a source specifies, the device was in the air for about ten minutes, the tests took place in the center of unmanned aviation in the Aix-en-Provence region [southern France].

It is noted that the VSR700 first flew in November 2019, but then the prototype was equipped with a 30-meter safety rope to ensure safety in accordance with the requirements of the authorized bodies that granted flight permits.

To ensure the free flight of the UAV, Airbus Helicopters used geofencing technology and equipped the device with an emergency flight termination system. Modification and strengthening of the drone structure was carried out, the autopilot software was finalized and updated. In the near future, flight tests of the UAV will continue in order to check the functioning of the systems in various modes.

The free flight precedes the start of the VSR700’s sea trials, which are scheduled for late 2021.

In October 2016, DCNS [now the Naval Group] and Airbus Helicopters announced their intention to jointly develop a new tactical maritime vertical takeoff and landing UAV VSR700. The project’s subcontractors are Helicopteres Guimbal, Thales Systemes Aeroportes, Safran E&S and ONERA.

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In accordance with the terms of the agreement, Airbus Helicopters is responsible for the design of the VSR700 platform, and the Naval Group is responsible for integration with ship systems and on board applications.

The VSR700 is being developed on the basis of the “Cabri G2” manned light helicopter by Helicopteres Guimbal. The maximum take-off weight will be from 500 to 1000 kg. It is assumed that, depending on the payload, the UAV flight duration will be 8-10 hours. As stated, it will provide an optimal balance of payload transported, flight duration and operating costs.

A demonstration of the UAV to the French Navy command is scheduled for 2021.

France creates its own reconnaissance UAV

Minister of Armed Forces of France Florence Parley announced on June 19 the transfer by the Directorate General for Armaments (DGA) of the first three reconnaissance LHC manufactured by Thales NE of the country.

The complexes received the designation SMDR [Systeme de MiniDrones de Renseignement].

After the DGA tests of the complexes received, the Directorate granted permission for the transfer of the first French NE systems. As planned, UAVs will be ready for combat use by the end of 2020.

The supply of French SMDR systems by SMDR will significantly enhance their capabilities in reconnaissance, detection and identification of targets in the combat zone.

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In accordance with the Law on Military Programs for 2019-2025, ten more reconnaissance mini-UAV complexes should be delivered by the end of 2020, and in 2021 35 systems will be received.

As BulgarianMilitary.com reported, in early 2016, the French Ministry of Defense sent a number of companies proposals for the supply of up to 70 sets of small UAVs (210 in total), which received the designation SMDR (Systéme de MiniDrones de Renseignement). They are intended to replace the armed DRAC UAVs used by the French Army since 2008.

In December 2016, the DGA selected Thales as the winner of the tender, with which a contract worth 104.3 million euros was signed, providing for the supply of 35 sets of UAV Spy Ranger and their maintenance for 10 years. The agreement includes an option to supply another 35 sets.

AVs will be used to collect information, observation and reconnaissance, target designation and fire adjustment, support the destruction of enemy strongholds.

Thales developed and will deliver the complexes together with two French companies: Aviation Design and Merio.

Each kit includes three Spy Ranger UAVs with payload, a control station, and auxiliary ground equipment. The UAV’s wing span is about 3.8 m, weight – 14.5 kg, flight duration – 2 hours 30 minutes, radius of action – up to 30 km.

The UAV is equipped with a Spy’Ball retractable multifunctional optoelectronic reconnaissance station located on the bow developed by Merio with high-resolution day / night cameras, an electric motor that drives a two-bladed composite propeller mounted in the rear, and lithium-polymer batteries , communication channel antenna and processing module.

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