Bell’s futuristic VSR700 vertical take-off drone in operational testing at sea

Defense technology company Northrop Grumman recently completed critical at-sea tests for its VSR700 vertical take-off and landing drone. Conducted off the coast of Maryland, the tests validated the VSR700 operating with full autonomy and carrying its maximum payload weight.

The VSR700 was designed for extended maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. Weighing over 10,000 pounds fully loaded, it can fly up to 12 hours and cover a radius of approximately 150 nautical miles.

During the recent open-water trials, operators kept the VSR700 drone fully autonomous throughout its flight route. With no pilot intervention needed, the aircraft followed pre-set waypoints and landed precisely back on a Navy test ship.

Additionally, engineers evaluated the VSR700 carrying its maximum capacity of 740 pounds internally and 400 pounds externally. Despite the heavy payload, the drone performed flawlessly, proving its utility for equipment-heavy operations.

According to Northrop Grumman, all objectives were successfully met certifying the VSR700’s autonomous functionality and endurance at sea. These results keep the drone on track for initial cargo deliveries in 2024 and operational deployment by 2026.

With its ability to take-off and land from confined areas, the VSR700 will offer the Navy and Marines greater flexibility than fixed-wing drones. Carrying ISR sensors, it will provide continuous aerial surveillance and communications-relay to forces at sea and remote coastal regions.

The recent milestone tests enable the VSR700 to move towards production and integration across maritime missions. Whether delivering cargo or conducting ISR, the VSR700’s sea-going skills position it to enhance naval capabilities.

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