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France Awards Contract to Airbus and Naval Group for Rotary Wing Drone Tech

Airbus VSR700


France Awards Contract to Airbus and Naval Group for Rotary Wing Drone Tech


The DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) has just awarded a contract for technology development in the field of rotary-wing drones to the Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters consortium. The purpose of the contract awarded by the DGA is to identify, deploy and test the technologies necessary for the integration of a tactical drone-system capacity within a heavily armed vessel.

It forms part of the preparation of the SDAM (Navy Airborne Drone System), whose entry into service is foreseen for the middle of the next decade on new Intermediate-Size Frigates (FTIs) and other French Navy ships. Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters will thus join their complementary competencies and know-how to prepare the French Navy’s future rotary-wing drone system and will be jointly responsible for the industrial project management and shall coordinate wider input from French industry/sector.

VSR700, versatile and robust solution

The VSR700 drone system being developed by Airbus Helicopters is a 700-kg drone, derived from a light civilian helicopter, the Cabri G2, benefits from the technical know-how of Airbus Helicopters in certified autonomous flight systems and naval helicopters.  “I would like to thank the DGA and the French Navy for the trust they have placed in the VSR700 drone which, thanks to the combined experience of Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group, is expected to play a crucial role in the aero-maritime operation theatres of tomorrow” declared Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus Helicopters.

The VSR700 can exceed 10 flight hours of operational autonomy with a payload capacity of up to 150 kg, offering performance levels that have, until now, been the reserve of aircraft of a significantly higher category and size. The system will benefit from the know-how of Airbus Helicopters in terms of automated flight control, autonomous navigation system, secure data link, the integration of sensors such as radar and optronic systems, the management of complex mission systems and the certification of military aircraft. The aerial vehicle has low maintenance requirements thus limiting support and operations costs. Its compact size is compatible with the simultaneous use of an on-board helicopter across different surface ships.

About Naval Group

Naval Group is a European leader in naval defence and a major player in marine renewable energies. As an international high-tech company it designs, builds and supports submarines and surface ships. It also supplies services to shipyards and naval bases and offers a wide range of marine renewable energy solutions.

About Airbus

Airbus is a world leader for aeronautics, space and associated services. It offers a complete family of commercial aircraft from 100 to over 600 seats and business jets. Airbus is also the European leader for mission, in-flight refuelling, combat and transport aircraft.

Hervé Guillou, President and CEO of Naval Group, indicated, “We are proud to have been selected by the DGA together with our long-standing partner Airbus Helicopters to allow the French Navy to integrate aerial drone systems into its units and strengthen its operational capabilities. This study also allows us to structure a world-leading industrial sector in this field.”

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Cite this article as: Sarah Whittaker, "France Awards Contract to Airbus and Naval Group for Rotary Wing Drone Tech," in, January 16, 2018,

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