The DGA, in cooperation with CILAS, demonstrated the destruction of a drone by a laser weapon system on July 7, 2021. This demonstration took place at the DGA’s missile test center located in South Western France.
“I am proud to have seen this excellence at work today. This is an exceptional experiment. A drone has just been destroyed by a high-powered laser, a major step in the fight against drones has just been taken. Thanks to you, France is proving today that she is up to the task and will be able to defend herself against her enemies.”Florence Parly, Minister of Armed Forces
This development was made in a context where drones are taking an increasingly important place on the battlefield with the use by terrorist organizations of civilian drones – transformed into reconnaissance drones – or military-made kamikaze attack drones used in recent conflicts.
The system tested was the HELMA-P (High Energy Laser for Multiple Applications – Power) laser system. The HELMA-P system was designed from a joint relationship between CILAS and Ariane Group, whose development took place from 2017 to 2019. The system consists in a 2-axis turret with a set of optical sensors and the laser weapon itself which has a power of 2 Kilowatts. This turret is operated by a single operator through a man-machine interface. It has a capability to reach targets up to 1 kilometer away, which 3 to 4 times greater compared to competing anti-drone technologies, according to the Director of CILAS innovation department.
The DGA started tests in 2020. As the results were better than expected according to the engineering project manager, the military hopes to make this experimental system operational by 2024 for the Olympic Games in Paris.
HELMA-P, up until now, was tested only from land. But it will also be installed on vehicles and ships announced Florence Parly during the event:
“The success of the demonstrator is very promising. I believe in you to perfect this technology with the CILAS teams. In terms of power, range and mobility: the smaller the systems will be, the easier they will be to deploy. In fact, I have asked for these laser weapons to be tested on French Navy ships in the first half of 2022.”Florence Parly, Minister of Armed Forces
Naval News contacted CILAS to get more details about the upcoming French Navy laser trials.
The primary objective is to test the “stability and the quality of the laser firing in a marine environment” CILAS told us.
“Knowing that the tests on July 7, 2021 in Biscarrosse took place under a heavy rain and with a low cloud cover, this is positive for the future in this new environment.”
Romane Dalla Vera, CILAS Communication Manager.
In addition to anti-drone warfare, the aim is to go further and test it against asymmetric threats such as floating objects at sea, fast in-shore attack crafts (FIAC) but also for optical jamming or even destruction of antennas.
The ship on which the system will be tested has yet to be disclosed, but in the future, the final objective is to equip the laser weapon on frigates (FREMM, FDI) or patrol vessels “sailing through dangerous or coastal areas from which asymmetric threats can be launched” said CILAS.
According to the company, ships produce enough energy and resources to keep the HELMA-P system running.
Naval News reached out to DGA for comments, but has yet to receive a response. The story will be updated accordingly.