Naval News reports that the French Navy has ordered a helicopter style Unmanned Air System (UAS) similar in concept to the US Navy’s MQ-8 Fire Scout, but considerably smaller. It is expected to be used on a number of French Navy vessels including 16 new offshore patrol vessels (here) some of which have flight decks too small for conventional naval helicopters (here, and here)
This new Airbus UAS, the VSR700, has a max take off weight of 700 kg (1,543 lb). That is less than half the max take off weight of the smaller Fire Scout MQ-8B (3,150 lb/1,430 kg) and about a quarter of that of the larger MQ-8C (6,000 lb/2,721 kg).
Unlike the Fire Scouts, which use different versions of the same Rolls-Royce (formerly Allison) M250 turboshaft gas turbine, the VSR700 is powered by a four cylinder inline diesel of 1.991 liter/121.5 ci (Ø83 x 92 mm), the Thielert Centurion 2.0, derived from a modified Mercedes-Benz automobile engine. It is, however, capable of operating on either diesel or jet fuel.
Reportedly the VSR700 has greater endurance (10 hours) than the MQ-8B (8 hours) but less than the MQ-8C (15 hours)
The VSR700 is unique it its size, smaller than the Fire Scout, but larger than the very popular Schiebel Camcopter S-100 (use by about 20 countries) and the relatively new Leonardo AWHero, in contention for use on Australia’s 12 new OPVs, both in the 200 kg class. Both of which have a smaller payload and approximately six hour endurance.