Olympics-Anti-drone units a new tool to keep Paris 2024 safe

By Thomson Reuters Mar 14, 2024 | 8:17 AM

By Julien Pretot

VILLACOUBLAY, France (Reuters) – Security is the Paris 2024 Olympics’ hottest topic and France intends to leave no stone unturned as it prepares to secure the Games with the help of anti-drone units.

The military base of Villacoublay just outside Paris will be the home of an anti-drone coordination centre where police, gendarmerie and army officers will work hand in hand to contain the threat posed by drones.

“Drones can be used to carry out a protest, or with a terrorist intent,” general Arnaud Bourguignon, General Officer in charge of air and anti-drone protection for the Games, told reporters on Thursday.

“We’ve seen that it was easy to use a drone for other purposes and turn it into a weapon.”

Officers will monitor air traffic during the Olympics and will be able to identify drones – either with radar or pictures sent by officers on the ground at the Olympic sites.

Some of the drones will be identified as ‘friends’ while others will be neutralised.

Officers will use one of the 15 heavy anti-drone units, which feature a radar, cameras and a jamming antenna and can neutralise a drone kilometres away.

At their disposal will also be anti-drone rifles, which scramble the radio signal of a drone or take them down by laser.

Not all drones will need to be scrambled though.

“Some drones are being used by the media, but also to referee some events, so we cannot just ban them altogether,” said Bourguignon.

Although France has never been subject to a drone-led attack, the country was the target of Islamist attacks which involved a simultaneous assault by gunmen and suicide bombers on entertainment venues and cafes in Paris in Nov. 2015.

The Olympics will be held from July 26-Aug 11.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)