the deployment of anti-drone warfare for the Games in the face of uncertainties about the effectiveness of the system

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A drone shot down during a security exercise in preparation for the Olympic Games on the Vélizy-Villacoublay military base (Yvelines), March 14, 2024. EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP

While difficulties have accumulated in recent months for the anti-drone system planned for the Olympic Games (OG), its deployment nevertheless began, the week of 1er May, learned The worldfrom military sources. “There are still calibrations that need to be made, but we are calm”we assure the Air Force headquarters, which manages the coordination of this aspect of Olympic security.

This system, called Parade, co-produced by the companies Thalès and CS Group (now owned by Sopra Steria) with a whole range of subcontractors, has been raising questions for many months. Doubts rekindled by the extremely rare decision not to make public the report of a Senate fact-finding mission on the fight against drones.

Launched on January 30 and led in particular by the president of the foreign affairs committee Cédric Perrin (Les Républicains), this mission was initially due to deliver its conclusions in March. “Given the sensitivity of the subject”it was decided to postpone, explains Mr. Perrin. “There was no point in divulging information to our adversaries”details the senator who ” alert “he said, on the progress of the Parade project for a long time.

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On December 14, 2023, he declared that “Our anti-drone fight, particularly Parade, is not up to the level of need. We have a real hole in the racket”. The system “is still not operational to the extent expected of equipment that must work for the Olympics”he added.

Rental of complementary systems

In the range of anti-drone solutions currently on the market, Parade is an ambitious system. Made up of a set of “sensors” (radars, goniometers, cameras) and “effectors” to jam the radio link allowing a drone to fly, it is intended to be capable of detecting all devices from 100 g to 25 kg – i.e. all kinds of micro and mini-drones – permanently, 360 degrees, day and night, with additional possibilities for software development in a context of exacerbated electronic warfare.

The system is supposed to be tailor-made to deal with the explosion in the number of drones with free access in the civilian sector and capable, during the Olympics, of disrupting a competition; whether to take a simple photo, wave a banner, or even carry an explosive charge.

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But Parade’s performance wasn’t found to be fully mature in a number of recent tests. This observation has forced the Air Force to resolve, since the end of 2023, to anticipate the rental of complementary systems, in parallel with Parade, in order not to be caught off guard and to ensure a perfectly watertight security “bubble”. this summer.

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