Airbus Helicopters to buy UAS firm Aerovel
Airbus Helicopters is to acquire unmanned aerial system (UAS) firm Aerovel, in a bid to strengthen its portfolio of tactical unmanned solutions, including Flexrotor. This is a small tactical UAS designed to deliver intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions, including parapublic flights, over land and sea.
Flexrotor has a maximum launch weight of 25 kg, has been designed for ISTAR missions of between 12-14 hours. It can integrate different types of payloads including an electro-optical system and advanced sensors to suit bespoke mission needs. The rotorcraft can launch and recover autonomously from either land or sea requiring only a 12ft by 12ft platorm.
Bruno Even, CEO, Airbus Helicopters said the acquisition fitted the company’s goal of expanding its UAS offering and responding to rising demand for additional mission capabilities, such as manned-unmanned teaming. “Aerovel’s expertise in autonomous flight technology will undoubtedly complement our UAS development with the VSR700, as well as the work that we have been doing to develop interoperability,” he said.
Ali Dian, CEO of Aerovel said the acquisition would enable Aerovol to scale innovation and accelerate the development of unmanned aviation. “We are proud to become part of an organisation with a rich legacy of aerospace excellence and we look forward to leveraging our combined strengths to define the future of autonomous systems,” said Dian.
In addition to defence applications the Flexrotor can be deployed on parapublic missions, such as forest fire surveillance providing firefighters with critical images day or night, and ice navigation in helping guide naval vessels through ice in the Arctic ocean. “The Flexrotor is a mission-proven, force multiplier for operations in harsh, high-threat, GPS-denied environments,” he added.
Based in Bingen, Washington, Aerovel, will remain a US-owned company and continue collaboration with the US Department of Defense under Airbus’ Special Security Agreement (SSA). The acquisition has been approved by the relevant bodies of both companies but remains subject to regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to close this year.