Illustration of the HELMA-P system in action | Photo Credit: Cilas
The 2024 Summer Olympics is expected to be one of the grandest Olympics in history as France, the host of the event, has begun preparations.
Holding beach volleyball with the Eiffel Tower in the background, adorning the beauty of the Versailles Palace garden, and holding the Olympics’ grand opening in Seine are just a few of the visualizations that have already emerged from the French organizers.
However, France’s latest plan for making the Olympics memorable for all attendees is not related to scenery or leisure, but to security. If implemented successfully, the Olympics 2024 in France will feature a laser drone system that will shoot down drones that are hovering over the area.
The French Ministry of Defense has most recently expressed interest in the HELMA-P anti-drone laser weapon system. For the purpose of deploying the HELMA-P at the 2024 Olympics, the agency declared in June that it had placed an order for a prototype of the device.
“The HELMA-P system provides a calibrated response to the drone threat, from dazzling the drone’s observation instruments to the neutralization of a mini or micro drone (from 100g to 25kg) by altering its structure, causing it to fall in a few seconds,” stated the ministry.
Security is important during the Olympics
The anti-drone campaign of the French Ministry has started years ago. Aiming to wrap up in 2025, the campaign began in 2019. The HELMA-P prototype should “deepen the military’s understanding of its deployment,” according to the announcement from the ministry.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also told the media that they had nothing against the idea because the “security of the Games” is a huge duty that falls on the shoulders of the local authorities.
According to Jean, the General Directorate for Armament’s chief engineer, the HELMA-P shoots powerful laser beams that cause drones to overheat or shut down. The GDA is a ministry-affiliated department in charge of the development and procurement of the agency’s weapons.
For reasons of security, the ministry will hide Jean’s last name.
Threats of attacks from drones
Drone threats have grown at an exponential rate in recent years. It’s something to think about, especially during large-scale events like the Olympics, according to Phillippe Grow, a senior research fellow at France’s security and defense think tank Foundation for Strategic Research.
Drones have been useful in determining the precise location of a target as a military utility. Recent drone modifications have also led to some units carrying weapons and explosives. Mini drones have played important roles in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. This is what the French military is watching for.
The Helma-P drone killing system
In order to increase its ability to detect drones, the laser unit is also fitted with radar and radio sensors. This allows it to heat any drones that it finds. According to Jean, the HELMA-P has a one-kilometer killing range, and if it detects a drone within that range, it will quickly engage its drone-killing mechanism.
A densely populated region like Paris could potentially be at risk, according to Jean, despite the system’s ability to effectively ward off dangerous drones around the Olympic venue.
The chief engineer declared that the safe operation of the weapon is an essential aspect of the anti-drone laser program. The group in charge of the HELMA-P system controls will determine how carefully to shoot down drones that are discovered by the weapon.
“This decision will take into account the fact that the fall of the damaged drone could lead to some danger,” added Jean.
“One of the reasons lasers are interesting is that, compared to interception missiles, there are no explosives involved and even if the drone explodes, it’s just its debris that will fall. In general, it brings less collateral damage,” Gros said.
“The system is quite stealthy since it does not emit light because the laser in fact is invisible,” the chief added.
Opinions expressed by CEO Weekly contributors are their own.