The VSR700 is Airbus’ tactical unmanned aerial system (UAS) designed to fulfil the demanding requirements of global navies and those of armies in the 21st century’s contested and highly agile battlefields and seas.
The VSR700 offers the best endurance of any vertical takeoff/landing unmanned aerial vehicle (VUAV) in its class today. Its performance enables it to carry a full tactical load of major, high capability sensors, while its compact size provides multiple options for its assets (i.e. naval helicopter plus several VSR700s) stationed on board frigates and destroyers.
Intelligence, Surveillance Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR)
At sea, a ship is limited in its capacity to observe the region around it by the height of its ship-mounted sensors and the curvature of the Earth. While it can use its helicopter and, if necessary, shore-based assets, these may not always be available. The Airbus VSR700 is designed to be an integral asset which will extend the ship’s horizon, using sensors equal in quality to those carried by naval helicopters, with the ability to target contacts if needed or survey them for extended periods of time.
In its ISTAR role, the VSR700 complements a ship or naval force by extending the ship’s reach and freeing up the ship’s helicopter for the core missions where it is best employed.
Anti-submarine warfare (ASW)
The VSR700 is capable of carrying and positioning an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) barrier to complement a ship’s ASW activity or that of a helicopter with Manned Unmanned Teaming (MUMT). Sonobuoy data can be relayed through the UAS to ensure an unbroken data stream, no matter what the helicopter is doing. The VSR700 can also conduct radar and electro-optical identification of periscopes using high-performance, long-range sensors, a formidable deterrent when coupled with its low noise signature and high degree of persistence.
Anti-surface warfare (ASuW)
Anti-surface warfare (ASuW) is conducted in very hostile environments where a potential threat has to be distinguished from neutral or friendly sea traffic. Hostile intent may have to be established through identification of the vessel and its activity, and a laser is often used to designate the threat as a target—special demands for which the VSR700 is particularly suited. In ASuW, full-capability sensors keep the air vehicle outside of the target’s defensive range. Operating in an electronic warfare environment, the unmanned VSR700 ensures that the correct target is selected by using onboard high-performance sensors—preserving the security of naval personnel during highly dangerous engagements.
In maritime security missions, the ability to scan a large maritime zone, track the activity within it, identify contacts of interest and remain discreet is essential. Navies operate independently and are often remote from shore support. They need to have their key capabilities integral to the ship, removing the need to rely on shore-based aircraft, drones or other assets. The VSR700 brings to ships a major advantage in missions such as anti-terrorism, anti-pollution, counter-smuggling, fishery protection, monitoring and assisting refugees or illegal immigrants, coastal watch and more. The VSR700 can carry high-performance, long-range sensors which enable it to remain undetected while monitoring events and to provide high-quality data to authorities.
Search and rescue (SAR)
Search and rescue (SAR) is often a race against time. The ability to quickly and thoroughly search for survivors or the ships and aircraft that may contain survivors after an incident is a key requirement. With its extended endurance (up to 10 hours with a SAR payload – almost twice that of a helicopter), its high-quality sensors to find survivors in harsh conditions and its ready portability, the VSR700 is an ideal complement to traditional SAR assets. The system’s flexibility easily enables the use of multiple platforms to give greater or more detailed coverage in less time.