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Naval unmanned aerial system tested at sea from a French Navy frigate

November 2, 2023  By Helicopters Staff

Naval trials of the unmanned SDAM demonstrator lasted for seven days in the Mediterranean Sea. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group, in collaboration with the French Armament General Directorate, DGA (Direction génerale de l’armement), and the French Navy, tested the SDAM demonstrator (Système de Drone Aérien Marine/ Naval Aerial Drone System) from a multi-mission frigate (FREMM).

The trials took place on board the French Navy frigate, Provence, in the Mediterranean Sea from October 2 to 9. The vessel had previously been adapted by Naval Group to operate the SDAM. Airbus explains the sea trials were arranged to demonstrate the system’s high performance from an operational warship and the SDAM’s capabilities for surveillance and intelligence missions.

“We are proud to see that the SDAM and the VSR700 are maturing,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “The system that we will offer will be able to operate from a frigate and be adapted to the naval missions it was designed for,… I look forward to further demonstrating the potential of our system and to collaborating with the French Navy in order to offer an initial operational capability by 2026.”

The derisking study for the SDAM program was awarded to Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group by the DGA. The objective is to design, produce and test a rotary wing unmanned aerial system demonstrator for the French Navy. The system works with the Airbus Helicopters VSR700 unmanned aerial system and the I4Drones mission system developed by Naval Group. Naval Group has also been tasked with the integration of the system onboard military vessels. The project also involves French SMEs like Hélicoptères Guimbal and Diades, contributing to the creation of a local naval UAS industry in France.



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