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France starts counter-UAS laser system testing with CILAS

Helma-p counter-UAS graphic
Graphic: CILAS via DGA

The French defense ministry’s innovation agency (AID) has started a series of trials of the HELMA-P counter-UAS laser system in cooperation with laser and optronics company CILAS which is leading the development effort.

The first week of testing took place at the missile test site at Biscarrosse (Landes) in mid-October. It was the first of five testing rounds that are scheduled to occur between 2020 and 2021.

The objective of the HELMA-P project is to develop a laser system capable of neutralizing not only drones but also the optronics means of the adversary.

The defense ministry did not reveal details on the system’s power output or other capabilities. What is known is that the system was installed on a tripod for several so-called “fichants” shots (shots towards the ground) at a distance of up to one kilometer.

Over the coming weeks, the system will be tested against a range of different UAS models, which will be engaged at different altitudes.

Worth noting is that the company leading the development of the HELMA-P is also at the helm of the European TALOS (Tactical Advanced Laser Optical System) program, which aims to develop a EU high-power laser effector that could be integrated in military applications in the next decade.