France to conduct at-sea trials with unmanned Little Bird By: Craig Hoyle London 20 hours ago Source: Flightglobal France will perform at-sea trials with an unmanned Boeing H-6U Little Bird helicopter next year using a developmental automatic landing system. The result of a technology demonstration effort involving avionics specialist Thales and ship builder DCNS, the so-called D2AD programme demonstrated its capabilities during trials performed in the USA earlier this year. These included an H-6U with a safety pilot aboard simulating an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) approaching a moving ground vehicle towing a trailer. "The next trials are aimed at demonstrating automatic deck-landing of a UAV on the deck of a frigate in total safety, even in high sea state and low visibility," the companies said in a joint statement. Under the programme, DCNS is responsible for modelling the motion of the host vessel and providing a harpoon system to assist with the landing process. Thales has developed the positioning system and flight path technologies. French interest in fielding such a capability for future unmanned rotorcraft is being overseen by the nation's DGA defence procurement agency.