Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR NOV 2016 Contents 17
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 26 | NOV 2016
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DCNS and Airbus Helicopters will jointly design the future
tactical component of France’s maritime unmanned aerial
vehicle (UAV) under the Système de Drones Aériens de la
The new vertical take-off and landing UAV will be
developed by Airbus Helicopters and harness autonomous
flight technologies that have been tested through a range of
demonstration programs. To be known as the VSR700, the
UAV platform is derived from a light civil helicopter, the Cabri
G2 (developed by Hélicoptères Guimbal), which has proven
its reliability and low operating costs in commercial service.
With a total endurance of 8+ hours, the 700kg class
VSR700 can provide more than 6 hours loiter time on station
at ranges up to 180km from the launch site. It has a modular
mission payload of 180kg.
A United Kingdom industry team will develop a Laser
Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) capability demonstrator
under a £30 million (AUD$48.1 million) agreement with the
UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The UK Dragonfire group, led by MBDA and major partners
QinetiQ and Leonardo-Finmeccanica, and also including
Selex ES, BAE Systems, Marshall Aerospace & Defence,
GKN and Arke, will produce the capability demonstrator to
allow an assessment of LDEW technologies and approaches.
Demonstrations of the system are planned in 2018/2019.
Specifically, the UK MoD contract will assess how the
LDEW system can acquire and track targets at range, in
varying weather conditions, over land and water and its ability
to precisely and safely engage targets in land and maritime
The program, according to MBDA, will mature the key
technologies for a high energy defensive laser weapon
system and provide the body of evidence for future
procurement decisions for the UK armed forces.
The UK Dragonfire proposal builds on the significant MoD
and industry research and investment in the areas of laser
coherent beam combining, weapon systems command and
control, advanced pointing systems and high power storage.
French firms in maritime UAV collaboration
Safran’s eRider ‘land-based drone’
UK group signed up to laser weapons program
DCNS will design and develop the solutions for the ship-
based operation and integration of the VSR700, including
the specification and validation of the payloads and mission
data links. The company will also produce the UAV’s mission
system, which will enable real-time management of its
operations and allow its payloads to be controlled through the
combat management system.
Under the terms of the partnership, Airbus Helicopters will
be responsible for designing and developing the VSR700
platform as well as the various technologies needed to
perform missions such as surveillance, communications relay,
data transmission and a ‘see and avoid’ capability to enable
the drone to integrate into civilian airspace.
– Mario Attopardi
LEFT: A concept render of
the new VSR700 maritime
UAV. Image: Airbus Helicopters
LEFT: The eRider robotic
vehicle can be conventionally
driven or operated
autonomously. Image: Safran
ABOVE: The UK’s Laser Directed Energy Weapon capability
demonstrator program will assess the suitability of laser
weapons for early adoption by the Royal Navy. Image: MBDA
French firm Safran Electronics & Defense has recently
been demonstrating a novel robotic concept to highlight the
advantages of autonomous platforms and functions in a land
The eRider concept uses the same approach Safran
took with the Patroller drone recently ordered by the
French Army in that it uses a piloted platform and converts
it into an unmanned platform. For the eRider program,
Safran teamed up with automotive parts specialist Valeo
to produce a 4x4 hybrid electric all-terrain vehicle in the
light strike vehicle class, with multi-mission capability and
reconfigurable to seat two or four passengers.
Interestingly, eRider operators have the option of driving
the vehicle conventionally or dismounting and operating
the vehicle in partial or full autonomy mode, which includes
‘follow me’ functionality.
The vehicle features an onboard electric generator that
reduces thermal and acoustic signatures, making it ideal for
light reconnaissance/surveillance or observation roles. To
this end, the vehicle can be fitted with various optronics, a
gunshot detection system and sights to gather and transmit
tactical information about a battlespace or target.
The four-seat version of eRider has a roll-over protection
system and large rear cargo bed making it useful as a carry-
all. Stretchered casualties can also be carried. The vehicle
would typically not be fitted with weapon systems and does
not incorporate armoured protection. Maximum road range
in autonomy mode is around 300km, with a top speed of
– Phillip Thianos
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