DGA tests VSR700 over water for French Navy program

DGA tests VSR700 over water for French Navy program

2-Feb-2023 Source: French Military

In December 2022, the DGA validated the technical capabilities in the maritime overflight phase of the VSR-700 drone demonstrator, as part of the risk removal study for the SDAM program (aerial drone system for the Navy).

The test campaign was conducted from the DGA Missile Testing site on the Ile du Levant (Var) by a team of engineers and technicians from the DGA’s expertise and test centers, in close collaboration with the teams of the manufacturers concerned.

Notified by the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) to Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group in 2017, the SDAM risk removal study aims to prepare the production of an aerial drone capable of being implemented from buildings. first-rate combat vehicles (example: multi-mission frigates – FREMM) of the French Navy and to fly eight hours while simultaneously carrying two main payloads up to approximately 150 km.

The SDAM demonstrator is based on the VSR-700 drone which is derived from the Cabri G2 light helicopter, produced by the French SME Guimbal based in Aix – Les Milles. It is currently equipped with a maritime surveillance radar, an AIS receiver (ship location system by transponder) combined with the performance of an optronic ball, optimized for use in the marine environment.

The industrial work already carried out has focused in particular on one of the most significant technical risks, which is being able to take off and land on these buildings completely automatically, with sea conditions equivalent to those acceptable by the manned helicopters currently in service ( NH90, Panther Standard2), i.e. sea level 5. The performance in March 2022 of more than 130 landings on a civilian boat in significant sea conditions demonstrated that the system takes off and lands fully autonomous.

This technical capability represents a major breakthrough and a world first for a drone in this category.

From December 7 to 15, 2022, more than 25 engineers and technicians from the DGA, from DGA Flight Tests, DGA Missile Tests, DGA Naval Techniques, DGA Project Engineering and industrialists, in particular Airbus Helicopters, Naval Group and DIADES (for the marine radar), checked the correct technical operation of the demonstrator in maritime overflight during five flights which totaled nine hours. This test campaign brings the number of flight hours performed under the SDAM risk removal study to more than 240 hours spread over more than 160 flights. The success of these technical tests, after that of the automatic take-off and landing campaign carried out at sea from a civilian boat in the first quarter of 2022, authorizes the transition to a test phase on board a French Navy frigate.

Thus, the VSR-700 has passed an important stage in its development and can now continue its tests in 2023 from a FREMM of the French Navy. These future tests will close the risk removal phase of the SDAM program, making it possible to envisage its launch in production.

The results of the SDAM risk reduction study, amounting to approximately 100 million euros, demonstrate the high-level innovation capacity of the Ministry of the Armed Forces and actively contribute to the development of a drone sector within of the French defense industry.

aerial drone system for the Navy SDAM

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