The upcoming unmanned Airbus Helicopters VST700, being developed jointly with DCNS, is based on the manned Cabri G2 light helicopter series.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: Image from official Airbus Helicopters marketing material.
Naval unmanned Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) systems are a growing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) subgroup. Modern warships have nearly-always relied on some sort of airborne element to reconnoiter areas Beyond-the-Horizon (BtH) and the role use to be fulfilled (rather effectively) by recoverable balloons and floatplanes. However, today's technologically advanced vessels require a more modern solution so several major UAV developers have centered the fray in delivering maritime-minded, helicopter-type unmanned vehicles to fulfill various ongoing requirements - some to be used as reconnaissance platforms and others as resupply air systems.
Airbus Helicopters has based a vehicle on the former with the framework made up of the French-made Guimbal Cabri G2, a twin-seat, single-engine light helicopter introduced in 2008. The revised, unmanned product is the "VSR700", retaining all of the excellent qualities of the lightweight and relatively simple G2 helicopter. The VSR700 was brought about to fulfill a French Navy requirement for a ship-launchable and -retrievable unmanned aircraft system. As a compact rotorcraft, the VSR700 naturally holds a small footprint aboard the deck of a warship - whether considering the larger Mistral-class amphibious assault platforms or traditional French Navy frigates currently in service.
Outwardly the helicopter carries over the same form and functionality as its manned predecessor. However, the cockpit section has been covered over and now holds pertinent operational systems. The optics set is fitted at the "chin" position and other sensors are mounted under the belly of the fuselage. The fuselage also houses the single engine installation which drives a three-bladed main rotor overhead. A shaft is buried in a thin tail stem driving power to the Fenestron-shrouded tail rotor unit. Horizontal stabilizers are affixed towards the aft-end of the tail stem. The undercarriage consists of a single four-point, twin-skid arrangement which further simplifies construction and maintenance of the vehicle.
The VSR700 is set to be displayed at the 2017 Paris Air Show as a static exhibit. Evaluation of the aircraft is set to be conducted before the end of 2017.
January 2018 - It was announced that the prototype of the VSR700 program will be ready for its first-flight for sometime in 2018.
November 2019 - The VSR700 has completed its first-flight.
[ 1 Units ] : Airbus Helicopters / DCNS - France
- Navy / Maritime
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
20.67 ft (6.3 m)
23.62 ft (7.2 m)
9.02 ft (2.75 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Airbus Helicopters VSR700 production model)
882 lb (400 kg)
1,543 lb (700 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Airbus Helicopters VSR700 production model)
1 x Continental CD-155 jet-fuel/diesel piston-driven engine developing 155 horsepower and driving a three-bladed main rotor and Fenestron-shrouded tail rotor unit.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Airbus Helicopters VSR700 production model)
115 mph (185 kph; 100 kts)
13,123 feet (4,000 m; 2.49 miles)
435 miles (700 km; 378 nm)
1,200 ft/min (366 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Airbus Helicopters VSR700 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
None. Mission pack consisting of Electro-Optical (EO) camera, surface-search radar and various onboard sensors.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Airbus Helicopters VSR700 production model)
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