Airbus VSR700 prototype performs successful first unmanned test flight

VSR700 prototype performs first flight ©Airbus/Eric Raz

Airbus Helicopters has announced that its VSR700 unmanned aircraft successfully performed several take-offs and landings at a drone test centre near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France on Friday, November 8. The longest flight lasted approximately 10 minutes. This stage of the flight-test program required that the unmanned aircraft was tethered to the ground with a 30m cable which secured the flight-test zone.

“The VSR700 is a fully-fledged unmanned aerial system, capitalizing on Airbus Helicopters’ extensive experience of advanced autopilot systems and engineering expertise to provide modern militaries with new capabilities”, said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. “This first flight of the VSR700 prototype is a major milestone for the program as we make progress on the operational demonstrator for the French Navy that will perform trials in 2021 in partnership with Naval Group.” The VSR700 is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1000 kg maximum take-off weight range and is a derivative of the Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2. It offers the ideal balance of payload capability, operational cost and endurance. It can carry multiple, full-size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate in existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.

The VSR700 prototype is a step-change from the optionally piloted demonstrator that first flew in 2017 and which was based on a modified Cabri G2 equipped for autonomous flight. Compared to the demonstrator, the VSR700 prototype has a specialized set of avionics and an advanced flight control system, and a payload bay in place of the pilot.

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