Airbus Helicopters’ redesigned VSR700 unmanned aerial system (UAS) prototype has completed its debut flight.

The test flight was conducted at a drone test centre near Aix-en-Provence in France.

During the test, the VSR700 system carried out a series of take-offs and landings while tethered with 30m cables.

The longest flight of the demonstrator lasted about ten minutes. The company stated that the flight test programme will now transition to free flight.

Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even said: “The VSR700 is a fully-fledged unmanned aerial system, capitalising on Airbus Helicopters’ extensive experience of advanced autopilot systems and engineering expertise to provide modern militaries with new capabilities.

“This first flight of the VSR700 prototype is a major milestone for the programme as we make progress on the operational demonstrator for the French Navy that will perform trials in 2021 in partnership with Naval Group.”

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The VSR700 is based on the Cabri G2 helicopter and is designed for the French Navy.

The UAS can operate alongside other shipborne naval assets and provide enhanced search and rescue capabilities.

It has the ability to carry multiple high-capability naval sensors for extended periods and provide a larger tactical picture to the commanders.

The unmanned platform can be used by navies to support intelligence, surveillance targeting and reconnaissance (ISTAR), anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions.

Airbus Helicopters made key modifications to the optionally piloted demonstrator that flew in 2017.

The changes include a specialised set of avionics and an advanced flight control system.

The company has also incorporated a payload bay and created a more aerodynamic design to deliver improvements in flight performance.

The VSR700 demonstrator performed a fully unmanned autonomous flight in December last year.