Euronaval, organised in Paris from 17 to 21 October, is regarded as one of the biggest naval exhibitions in the world, but on show were a few items of particular interest to ground forces, justified by the narrow synergies between the different components of a nation’s armed forces. Apart from the imposing VBCI, exhibited as one of the key elements of France’s amphibious capabilities, FOB discovered what we believe was the only light weapon exhibited at this 25th Euronaval show: the Deterrent and Interception Laser (DIL) developed by GEIM, based in Lorient, Brittany, to neutralise a threatening person or object.
DIL’s adventure began in 2014 when Martial, an ex-marine commando who served in Afghanistan, decided to merge his operational experience with the technical know-how held by Antoine and Sébastien, who respectively hold a PhD in electronics and mechatronics. The Breton trio linked up with two local SMEs (small and medium enterprises), Laser Conseil, based in Lannion, and EvoSens, based in Brest, to develop and present, a year later, a technological innovation which immediately won the 2015 Innovation Trophy offered by the Morbihan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The underlying idea was to “privilege non-lethal means to discriminate and deter a threat,” Martial explained, adding that “the DIL was designed based on lessons learned and with the objective of improving what already exists to increase eye-safety, the level of operational capability, the autonomy and the ergonomics.” A mission such as the “Sentinelle” operation currently deployed in France to prevent terrorist attacks forces governments to consider the lethality of the tools put into the hands of their security forces, hence a growing interest in the DIL.
Dedicated to protecting military bases, sensitive industrial sites, ports, military and civilian ships, the DIL has been designed to operate day and night thanks to a 6,000mW green laser – the most powerful of this type, according to GEIM. This was chosen on purpose to blind night vision systems as they use the same colour. GEIM’s DIL stands out from similar systems thanks notably to the choice between a fixed mode and a stroboscopic mode and of defining the shape of the spot: circular or elliptical. The latter covers a surface of 5 x 1.5m at a distance of 500m enabling, for example, the windscreen of a threatening vehicle to be blinded. Thanks to the polymer Li-ion battery placed in the cross, the 6kg DIL has an autonomy of three hours in its standard version, and of 90 minutes in the tactical version which weighs 700 grammes less.
GEIM also concentrated on ensuring the DIL is safe to use by forcing the user to undertake a secret sequence to activate the system. In addition, the system will cut automatically in less than 250 nanoseconds if somebody crosses the beam less than 80m away. The DIL meets “all measures of ocular power certified by an independent laboratory,” Martial details. Finally, the DIL cannot function without its own battery which has an intelligent reconnaissance system and can easily be deactivated thanks to a circuit breaker installed under the handle.
Innovative and unique, the DIL has drawn the interest of the French DGA procurement agency, the army’s technical division (STAT) and the police special force (RAID), to name but them. Even if the DIL’s technology is now mature, GEIM is going to use results of tests to improve the design so that it can be used as an anti-drone weapon thereby opening the doors to a rapidly expanding sector.