Airbus Helicopters and DCNS have signed an agreement to collaborate on designing the future tactical component of French Navy’s aerial drone (Système de Drones Aériens de la Marine – SDAM) programme.
Under the terms of the partnership, Airbus Helicopters will be responsible for designing and developing the VSR700 drone as well as the various technologies needed for drones to perform aerial missions, such as data liaison, payload and a “see and avoid” capability enabling the drone’s integration into airspace.
DCNS’s role in the partnership will be to design and supply the entire warship-integrated VTOL drone system. DCNS will design and develop the solutions for the ship-based operation and integration of the drone, including the specification and validation of the payloads and mission data links. The French company will also produce the drone’s mission system, which will enable real-time management of its operations and allow its payloads to be controlled through the combat management system.
DCNS CEO Hervé Guillou said: “We will continue to innovate in these areas and give drones the capability to perform increasingly complex missions over greater distances and timeframes in an interoperable environment with increased digitalisation of resources.
“Such digitalisation hinges on the roll-out of cybersecurity solutions that offer better protection of data and communications between drones and ships.”
The VSR700 drone that will serve as the basis for the design is derived from a light civil helicopter, the Cabri G2 (developed by the company Hélicoptères Guimbal).
“Rotary-wing drones will play a crucial role in tomorrow’s air/sea theatres of operation, performing the role of a roving eye and extending the coverage of surface vessels over the horizon,” said Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury. “This partnership will see Airbus Helicopters pool its expertise in vertical flight and autonomous flight technologies with the skills DCNS possesses in naval combat systems, allowing us to respond to the emerging needs of our customers.”