French government, naval consortium collaborate on first rotary-wing drone for a warship

PARIS. France's DGA (Direction générale de l’armement, the government agency tasked with procuring weapons systems) awarded a contract for technology development in the field of rotary-wing drones to the Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters consortium.

Under the terms of the , the consortium will perform risk-reduction 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 goal of the contract -- according to documents from Airbus Helicopters -- is to identify, deploy, and test the technologies necessary to integrate a tactical drone system within a heavily armed vessel. It forms the initial portion of the preparation of the SDAM (Navy Airborne Drone System), whose entry into service is foreseen for the middle of the next decade on France's new intermediate-size frigates and other French navy ships.

While the Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters will act as the program design authority, Hélicoptères Guimbal, Safran, Thales, and ONERA will serve as principal subcontractors.

Photo montage/illustration: Airbus

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