STUTTGART, Germany — The French Armed Forces Ministry has chosen Thales and CS Group to build deployable anti-drone systems and have them in place by 2023, ahead of the nation’s hosting of two major international sports events.
The €350 million (U.S. $368 million) deal includes an initial six copies, with the option to acquire several dozen more at a later date. The ministry issued the procurement notification on April 26, spokesman Herve Grandjean told reporters during a Thursday press conference.
The program, dubbed PARADE for “protection déployable modulaire anti-drone,” was initiated in May 2021. Thales partnered with CS Group, a command-and-control information systems builder, to produce technology capable of detecting and neutralizing microdrones and small unmanned aerial system, Grandjean said. Microdrones are typically classified as having the dimensions of a large insect, while small UAS tend to measure between 50 centimeters and 2 meters long.
Each system will include a goniometer capable of detecting the drone’s angle of approach, a radar, an optronic system and a jamming system, Grandjean told reporters. The deployable counter-UAS systems will be capable of detecting and neutralizing drones, whether or not they emit electromagnetic waves, he added.
While the systems will be used for overall national security purposes, the intent is to have them in place ahead of “major international events on national territory,” Grandjean noted. France is scheduled to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup as well as the 2024 Summer Olympics.
The French program was designed to be “agile and evolving,” allowing the ministry to adapt to future threats, Grandjean said.
“If there is a need for new solutions because there are new drone technologies, then we will be capable … of contracting services to integrate these new solutions on the systems.”
He added that such new technologies include a laser weapon. “We can perfectly imagine … integrating this type of service.”
French media reports state that European consortium MBDA also competed for the PARADE program.
Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, contributing to Defense News' European coverage. She previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defence Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2020.