Airbus Helicopters has completed the first unmanned, autonomous flight of its VSR700 demonstrator “tactical vehicle.” The highly modified Helicopteres Guimbal Cabri G2 took off from the military airbase in Istres in the south of France. The VSR700’s 30-minute flight consisted of a variety of flight patterns before landing autonomously. The helicopter was piloted and monitored from the ground station located at the base. The helicopter had been flying autonomously since May 2017 with a safety pilot aboard.
The aircraft is fitted with a diesel engine to meet military requirements and has an automatic flight control system designed to meet regulatory standards. The VSR700 is a light military tactical unmanned aerial system able to carry multiple payloads, with an endurance of around eight hours. The system will initially offer extended surveillance capabilities for navies, allowing them to preserve manned helicopter flights for critical missions. The VSR700 is designed to land on navy ships as small as corvettes, and successful sea trials have already taken place.