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8 May, 2024 13:27

Paris Olympics anti-terror system mistakes AC units for drones – Times

Recent tests revealed that only about a third of incoming UAVs are properly identified, the report says
Paris Olympics anti-terror system mistakes AC units for drones – Times

An advanced French anti-drone system set to be deployed at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris has numerous flaws and is often unable to distinguish explosive-laden drones from air conditioners, The Times reported Monday, citing sources.

The French capital will host the Olympic Games between July 26 and August 11. To protect against terrorist threats, the authorities intend to use the so-called Parade system, the deployment of which is estimated to cost €350 million ($376 million) over 11 years. 

The system, which consists of a radar, radio frequency direction finder, and jamming system is touted as being capable of diverting UAVs or forcing them to land.

However, according to the Times, despite the Games being just weeks away, during recent tests, the Parade system was reportedly found to be capable of detecting only one in three drones, and only within a range of 800 meters. The framework also “confused the propellers of air conditioning units with drones,” the paper’s source claimed.

Earlier media reports had suggested that the rollout of the Parade system was not going according to plan. While the delivery of six systems was initially scheduled for 2023, it was delayed for several months. A Senate committee subsequently launched a probe into the matter, but announced in March that it would not be releasing its findings.

According to the outlet AFP, the contents of the report proved to be too “sensitive,” with an unnamed security source telling the agency that “contrary to the official line, things aren’t really working as we’d like.” 

Paris and surrounding areas have experienced horrific acts of terrorism in the past, including a series of coordinated attacks in 2015 that targeted the Bataclan theater and the Stade de France, among others, killing 130 people.

Last year, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin stated that drones “[are] without doubt the main [threat] to be dealt with” at the Olympics. Some 15 million tourists are expected to visit the French capital during the Games. There are an estimated three million drones in the country, many of which are privately owned.