DCNS and Airbus Helicopters have partnered to design a new vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the French Navy.
The development of VTOL is in response to the French navy’s Système de Drones Aériens de la Marine (SDAM) programme.
Under the partnership, DCNS will design and develop solutions for the ship-based operation and integration of the VTOL drone system including the specification and validation of the payloads and mission data links.
Additionally, DCNS will produce the drone’s mission system to enable real-time management of its operations and allow control of payloads through combat management system.
DCNS CEO Hervé Guillou said: “We will continue to innovate in these areas and give drones the capability to perform increasingly complex missions over greater distances and timeframes in an interoperable environment with increased digitalisation of resources.
“Such digitalisation hinges on the roll-out of cybersecurity solutions that offer better protection of data and communications between drones and ships.”
Airbus Helicopters will design and develop the VSR700 drone, which is derived from a Hélicoptères Guimbal-developed light civil helicopter, Cabri G2.
Also, Airbus will provide other technologies required for the drones to conduct aerial missions, such as data liaison, payload and a ‘see and avoid’ capability to integrate the drone into airspace.
Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury said: “Rotary-wing drones will play a crucial role in tomorrow’s air/sea theatres of operation, performing the role of a roving eye and extending the coverage of surface vessels over the horizon.
“This partnership will see Airbus Helicopters pool its expertise in vertical flight and autonomous flight technologies with the skills DCNS possesses in naval combat systems, allowing us to respond to the emerging needs of our customers.”
With a smaller logistics footprint, the VSR700 platform features better endurance and payload performance. It requires less maintenance and can be easily integrated into a wide range of surface vessels.
Image: A rendering of the VTOL system for French Navy. Photo: courtesy of Airbus Helicopters Beatriz-Santacruz.