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French Navy orders second VSR700 prototype UAS


According to information published by the French Ministry of Armed Forces on April 15, 2021, Florence Parly, has announced that the Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed an order to purchase a second VSR700 prototype which is an unmanned aerial system being developed for the French Navy in partnership with Naval Group.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The Airbus VSR700 is designed to be an integral asset which will extend the ship’s horizon, using sensors equal in quality to those carried by naval helicopters, with the ability to target contacts if needed or survey them for extended periods of time. (Picture source: Airbus)


Designed to operate alongside other shipborne naval assets, the VSR700 unmanned aerial system (UAS) is being developed within the frame of the SDAM (Système de drone aérien de la Marine) programme for the French Navy. The VSR700, derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal's Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1000 kg maximum take-off weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate from existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.

The first prototype of the VSR700 performed its maiden flight in 2020 and has recently begun expanding its flight envelope.

He has evolved over the last nine months since its maiden flight. The programme implemented the geofencing function, as well as a Flight Termination System allowing the mission to be ended if necessary. Modifications have equally been performed to the air vehicle, alongside autopilot software evolutions and updates, as well as structural modifications and reinforcements.

The Guimbal Cabri G2 is a two-seat light helicopter produced by Hélicoptères Guimbal, and powered by a reciprocating engine. Designed by Bruno Guimbal, a former Eurocopter engineer, it had its origins in the 1980s, and the first demonstrator flew in 1992. Following the granting of regulatory approval, the Cabri entered commercial service in 2008. In addition to its use within the general aviation sector and as a training rotorcraft, the Cabri G2 has also been used as the basis for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The Cabri is powered by a single 180 hp (134 kW) Lycoming O-360 piston engine, which has been rated to 145 hp (108 kW) max continuous power and 160 hp (119 kW) 5-minute power.