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Airbus Tests SDAM Demonstrator Aboard French Naval Vessel

Faire Trembler le Sabre Français

Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group, in collaboration with the French Armament General Directorate, DGA (Direction Génerale de l’Armement), and the French Navy, have tested the SDAM demonstrator (Système de Drone Aérien Marine) Naval Aerial Drone System from a multi-mission frigate (FREMM). The trials spanned 02 through 09 October 2023 and were conducted on board the French Navy frigate, Provence as it plied the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Subject vessel had previously been adapted to operate the SDAM.

The described sea trials were arranged to demonstrate the system’s performance from an operational warship and the SDAM’s capabilities for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even stated: “We are proud to see that the SDAM and the VSR700 are maturing. 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. Working alongside Naval Group and other local partners, we are building a robust and sovereign solution. 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.”

Airbus Naval Group CEO Pierre-Eric Pommellet set forth: “We are very happy with the success of these trials which mark a major step in the reinforcement of the French Navy's future capabilities. We have passed a significant milestone in terms of the complexity of the integration of an unmanned aerial system (UAS) on board a heavily armed vessel, both physically and operationally.”

Monsieur Pommellet added: “These trials have also shown the relevance of the Naval Group I4Drones mission system, and the fact that the SDAM demonstrator can seamlessly be integrated on a vessel and will work harmoniously with other existing systems. In synergy with the ship’s combat system and the embarked helicopter, the drone will be another means to access complementary airspaces and will truly be a remote sensor that will expand the crew’s perception and treatment of threats in real time.”

The de-risking study for the SDAM program was awarded to Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group by the DGA. The initiative was undertaken for purpose of designing, producing, and testing a rotary-wing Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) 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. Additionally, Naval Group has been tasked with the system’s integration vis-à-vis military vessels.



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