The article was updated on 29/04/2022 at 11:05 a.m. after the press release of the Ministry of Armed Forces
About 18 months before the Rugby World Cup, which starts in September 2023, the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) has selected, following a European call for tenders launched in 2021, joint venture led by Thales and CS Group to create and develop a new anti-drone capability as part of the PARADE (Protection deployAble modulaiRe Anti-DronEs) program. This consortium also includes many tricolor SMEs such as CerbAir, Exavision and MC2 Technologies, which has developed Nerod interceptor rifles, but also the Dutch company Robin. Each system consists of radar, optical reconnaissance systems and operators organized around a core of command and control.
“The partnership between CS Group and Thales provides a top-down overview of aviation security to ensure that at all times the vision of the threat and the best way to respond to it”, explains its Deputy General Manager CS. Club, Marie de Saint Salvy, refers to the joint press release of the two teams published on Thursday.
According to the Department of the Armed Forces, Thales will bring to the project its experience as a systems engineer, its expertise in aviation defense, cybersecurity and digital architecture. For its part, CS Group will bring its know-how to the very demanding area of drone control in the project, the ministry said: “The company has in recent years secured the implementation of systems, some of which have been operating since 2016”.
Up to 350 million euros
The estimated amount of the contract, announced on Tuesday by DGA, will be up to € 350 million over an 11-year period, including € 33 million on a fixed basis. The LPM (Military Planning Act) update provides for their funding 70 million euros in the period 2022-2025. The first order concerns the acquisition of six PARADE systems, which will operate in all weather conditions, day and night. This market also includes the maintenance of these systems for ten years. The first six systems will be delivered to DGA in early 2023 less than a year after the start of the program. But the Rugby World Cup is coming fast, very fast …
“The fight against drones is a fundamental part of the evolution of the French army. We are increasing our strength in this critical area. In 2021, we tried for the first time the destruction of a drone with a powerful laser. Today we buy state-of-the-art equipment to deal with “In order to strengthen the protection of sensitive military areas and vital pilots (OIVs), in accordance with the Military Planning Act (LPM) 2019-2025”, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, explained in a press release. Ministry of Armed Forces, published on Friday.
Neutralization with entrapment
The PARADE modular and multi-mission system aims at the safe detection, classification and neutralization (jamming) of micro-drones (between 100 g and 2 kg) and mini-drones (between 2 and 25 kg). It can be used as part of a temporary deployment, to protect a fixed location, or to view external features. These systems will complement the anti-drone means already in service in the French armies. They will ensure permanent, 360 ° protection of the military premises in which they will be developed, in France and in outdoor theaters of operations. In addition, this The system will enhance public safety and the infrastructure of two sporting events taking place in France: the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Because the threat is ubiquitous today.
“The co-operation between Thales and the CS Group, an integrated critical anti-drone system in France, is fully in line with the logic of specific Air Safety Systems (DPSA) missions aimed at enhancing the protection of sensitive events.” the two companies in a joint press release released Thursday.
The PARADE market will also make it possible to address the rapidly evolving drone threat with a gradual rationale for integrating innovations and adapting to new constraints, the ministry said. PARADE is part of the Anti-drone (LAD) program, led by DGA, and was launched by the Ministerial Investment Committee on February 23, 2021, in order to follow up on the work carried out since 2015.
A growing threat
The next 20 years, “Millions of new drones will be launched in the airspace”, creating significant security challenges, both groups believe. In addition, a Senate report published in July 2021 estimated that this threat was “not yet sufficiently taken into account”. VSUnmanned aerial vehicles, whether commercial or modified, may pose a threat, either intentionally (espionage, sabotage, terrorism) or without intent to harm (mainly crash). Fighting drones remains a real technological challenge. Especially since this threat can not always be taken into account by conventional air defense. Why ? It is very small, very slow, very low and with very low radar signature.
“It was in the mid-2010s that we saw the appearance in an outdoor theater of operations of the first civilian drones diverted to military use: in this case, Daesh used small drones they bought online that could be used. either for observation purposes or equipped with explosives. This is a mode of operation that we found several years later in the Sahel, with small spy drones flying over our military bases, Florence Parly explained in July 2021.
The threat is also in France. Thus, the number of drones in the national territory is “from 400,000 in 2017 to 2.5 million today. Among them are more than 40,000 drones weighing more than 800 grams”had quoted the senate report. According to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), approximately 2,000 drone-related incidents occurred in 2019 in the European skies. Will the PARADE system live up to its acronym?