French Navy tests Airbus’ unmanned reconnaissance helicopter - M5 Dergi
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French Navy tests Airbus’ unmanned reconnaissance helicopter

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Airbus Helicopters and NAVAL GROUP, in coordination with the French Armament General Directorate, DGA – Direction générale de l’armement, and the French Navy Marine Nationale, have tested the SDAM demonstrator (Système de Drone Aérien Marine/Naval Aerial Drone System) aboard the multi-mission frigate, Provence.

According to Airbus, these trials, conducted in the Mediterranean Sea from the 2nd to the 9th of October, aimed to showcase the SDAM system’s exceptional performance from an operational warship, specifically focusing on its capabilities for surveillance and intelligence missions.

“We are proud to see that the SDAM and the VSR700 are maturing,” stated Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “The system we are developing will operate effectively from a frigate and will be tailored to meet the naval missions it was designed for. Through collaboration with NAVAL GROUP and other local partners, we are building a robust and sovereign solution. I look forward to further demonstrating the potential of our system and working with the French Navy to offer an initial operational capability by 2026.”

The derisking study for the SDAM program was initiated by Airbus Helicopters and NAVAL GROUP under the DGA’s supervision, with the objective of designing, producing, and testing a rotary-wing unmanned aerial system demonstrator for the French Navy.

The VSR700, a tactical unmanned aerial system (UAS) developed by Airbus, has been designed to meet the exacting requirements of modern navies and armies in today’s contested and highly dynamic battlefields and seas.

The VSR700 stands out with its unparalleled endurance, making it the top vertical takeoff/landing unmanned aerial vehicle (VUAV) in its class. This capability allows it to carry a full tactical load of major, high-capability sensors while offering various deployment options, such as being stationed on frigates and destroyers alongside naval helicopters.

Crafted to seamlessly complement other shipborne naval assets, the VSR700 drone, currently in development, will provide commanders with an expanded and clearer tactical picture, enhanced search and rescue capabilities, and the deployment of a highly autonomous platform during heightened threats. Its compact size and discreet silhouette enhance its stealth capabilities, and its payload can accommodate various long-range, high-performance sensors, providing modern navies with an optimal capability enhancement.

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