Drones were once considered as means to locate unreachable territories. However, with the swift advancement in technology, they have now upgraded into effective weapon carriers. Drone warfare is a reality now being used in almost all modern conflict zones. French defence giants CILAS plans on developing a counter system.
Known as the HELMA-P (High Energy Laser for Multiple Applications – Power). The system looks like one-eyed Wall E. Equipped with a powerful two-kilowatt laser to bring drones to dust and sensors that track drones in flight is what makes this system formidable.
The drone system is handled by one man who receives the input from sensors and tracks all drones in range. Then, with a control system that imitates a fighter jet, the laser can be guided onto the incoming drone and used with precision.
The research and development on the project began in 2020 at the missile test centre of the Armament General Directorate (DGA) in Southwest France. Developed over a period of 2 years after the collaboration of Ariane Group and DGA. CILAS proudly boasted that during the trials, it shot down 37 drones with pinpoint accuracy. With a range of 0.62 miles (1 km) and a capacity of increasing the range 3 to 4 times.
The last trial of the weapon system was conducted on 7th July and was attended by the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly. The company successfully demonstrated the weapon system under cloudy circumstances. Parly called the project an “exceptional experiment” and the demonstration “very promising”.
“In terms of power, range and mobility; the smaller the systems will be, the easier they will be to deploy,” Parly said. “In fact, I have asked for these laser weapons to be tested on French Navy ships in the first half of 2022”, he added, paving the way for trials on ships.
The company wants to test these laser drones on floating objects in the sea. Naval News reported fast in-shore attack crafts (FIAC) while also using them for optical jamming and destroying antennas.
Details of which ships will get the defence system for trials are currently withheld.