French Navy to Develop Unmanned Rotorcraft

Released on Thursday, January 11, 2018
VSR 700
DGA - Délégation Générale pour l'Armement
FTI - Frégate de Taille Intermédiaire
SDAM - Navy Airborne Drone System
Paris, 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 contract covers de-risking studies ahead of construction of a future tactical helicopter drone demonstrator aboard warships. The demonstration project will lead to trials of the drone launch system, mission system and airborne vehicle, conducted from a French Navy vessel.

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.

The study will help select the principal technologies for the SDAM and the identification of the technical risks necessary for initiating and realising the programme. The level of technological maturity sought is that of a demonstrator of the complete system in a representative environment.

Naval Group, European leader for naval defence, and Airbus Helicopters, the world's leading producer of helicopters, will thus join their complementary competencies and know-how in the naval and aeronautic fields to prepare the French Navy's future rotary-wing drone system.

The naval integration of aerial drones requires extensive experience of the technical and operational hurdles and the Navy's missions in order to define robust and evolutive system architectures that help meet every need.

Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters shall be jointly responsible for the industrial project management and shall coordinate wider input from French industry/sector. To this end, Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters shall act as the programme design authority and shall have Hélicoptères GUIMBAL, Thales Systèmes Aéroportés, Safran E&S and ONERA as their principal subcontractors.

Source: Technology breakthrough: Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters responsible for building the first demonstrator of a rotary-wing drone for a warship

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