Airbus' VSR700 drone copter prototype makes maiden flight
In 2017 a demonstrator of Airbus Helicopters' VSR700 Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) made its first self-piloted test flights. Now a prototype of the aircraft that can no longer be optionally piloted has successfully completed its maiden flight. On November 8, 2019, at a drone test center near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, the unmanned drone prototype carried out a series of tethered flights with the longest lasting 10 minutes.
Based on Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2, the VSR700 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) is designed as a heavy drone for operations with navy ships for the purpose of Intelligence, Surveillance Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), maritime security, and Search And Rescue (SAR).
The diesel/jet fuel-powered autonomous helicopter measures 6.2 m (20 ft) in length and is designed to workl alongside a full-size helicopter on existing frigate-sized warships. It has an endurance of eight hours with a full payload, which can include full -size naval sensors, munitions, and rescue gear. It has a maximum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) and a flight ceiling of 6,000 m (1,700 ft).
Because the VSR700 prototype is working towards airworthiness certification it made its maiden flight tethered to the ground by a 30-m (100 ft) cable. Airbus says that it will eventually be cleared for free flight. An evolution of the pilot-optional demonstrator that flew in 2017, the VSR700 prototype has special avionics, an advanced flight control system, and the cockpit has been converted to a mission payload bay.
"The VSR700 is a fully-fledged unmanned aerial system, capitalizing on Airbus Helicopters’ extensive experience of advanced autopilot systems and engineering expertise to provide modern militaries with new capabilities," says Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. "This first flight of the VSR700 prototype is a major milestone for the program as we make progress on the operational demonstrator for the French Navy that will perform trials in 2021 in partnership with Naval Group."
Source: Airbus Helicopters