Airbus Helicopters Adds Aerovel to Unmanned Aerial System Portfolio

Flexrotor. Image – Airbus

Airbus Helicopters has agreed to acquire Aerovel and its signature Flexrotor system to bolster its unmanned aerial capabilities. This strategic move bolsters Airbus’ presence in the tactical UAS market, offering a versatile tool for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions.

This acquisition aligns with Airbus’ vision for a future where manned and unmanned aerial vehicles work together seamlessly. Aerovel’s expertise in autonomous flight technology will further fuel Airbus’ development of existing systems like the VSR700 and their interoperability efforts.

“This strategic acquisition aligns with our vision to expand our UAS offering and respond to a growing customer demand worldwide for additional mission capabilities such as manned-unmanned teaming,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters.

The Flexrotor, a modern Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aircraft with a maximum launch weight of 25 kg, has been designed for ISTAR missions for more than 12-14 hours in a typical operational configuration. It can integrate different types of payloads including an electro-optical system and advanced sensors to suit customers’ unique mission needs.

The system has been successfully deployed in maritime security exercises thanks to its ability to autonomously launch and recover from either land or sea requiring only a 12 by 12 ft. area.  The Flexrotor can also be used for parapublic missions such as forest fire surveillance (providing firefighters with critical images day or night) and ice navigation (helping guide naval vessels through ice in the Arctic ocean).

Aerovel, based in Bingen, Washington, will remain a US-owned company and continue collaboration with the US DoD under Airbus’ Special Security Agreement (SSA).

The acquisition has been approved by both companies and is expected to close late in 2024. Terms of the agreement were not announced.

About Richard Pettibone

A military history enthusiast, Richard began at Forecast International as editor of the World Weapons Weekly newsletter. As the Internet grew in importance as a research tool, he helped design the company's Forecast Intelligence Center and currently coordinates the EMarket Alert newsletters for clients. Richard also manages social media efforts, including two new blogs: Defense & Security Monitor, covering defense systems and international issues, and Flight Plan, which focuses on commercial aviation and space systems. For over 30 years, Richard has authored the Defense & Aerospace Companies, Volume I (North America) and Volume II (International) services. The two books provide detailed data on major aerospace and defense contractors. He also edits the International Contractors service, a database that tracks all the contractors involved in the programs covered in the FI library. More recently he was appointed Manager, Information Services Group (ISG), a new unit that encompasses developing outbound content for both Forecast International and Military Periscope.

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