In 2017, Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 optional manned aircraft (OPV) verification aircraft underwent its first autonomous test flight. Now, the prototype, which can no longer be able to choose someone to pilot, has successfully completed its first flight. On November 8, 2019, the unmanned VSR700 prototype carried out a series of tethered flights for up to 10 minutes at the drone test center in Aix,in the Provence region of southern France.
The Cabri G2, VSR700 drone system based in H?licopt?res Guimbal is designed as a heavy-duty drone for naval intelligence, surveillance, target capture and reconnaissance (ISTAR), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), Maritime Safety and Search and Rescue (SAR).
The diesel/jet-fueled unmanned helicopter is 6.2 m (20 ft) long and is designed to work with a full-size helicopter on an existing frigate-sized warship. It has an eight-hour battery life and a complete payload that can include large naval sensors, ammunition and rescue equipment. It has a top speed of 80 km/h and a flight lift height of 6000 m.
Because the VSR700 prototype is working on airworthiness certification, its first flight was tied to the ground via a 30-meter (100-foot) cable. Airbus said it would eventually allow it to fly autonomously. The VSR700 prototype is the evolution of the optional manned aircraft validator for the 2017 flight, with special avionics, advanced flight control systems, and the cockpit has been converted into a mission payload module.
“The VSR700 is a proven drone system that leverages Airbus Helicopters’ extensive experience and engineering expertise in advanced autonomous driving systems to provide new capabilities for the modern military,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. The first flight of the VSR700 prototype is an important milestone in the program as we make progress in the French Navy’s operational verification aircraft, which will be tested in cooperation with the French Naval Group in 2021. “