Gatwick and Heathrow airports have ordered “military-grade anti-drone equipment” worth millions of pounds in a bid to prevent a re-run of the massive disruption caused after suspected drone sightings during Christmas week.
The airports saw fit to acquire the cutting-edge anti-drone systems after the British armed forces finally withdrew their detection capabilities from Gatwick this week, the Times reported.
Drone sightings — which later turned out to potentially not be drone sightings at all — led to the closure of the runway at Gatwick Airport on December 19 for three days, causing chaos during the busy holiday period. The incident, which is still being investigated, caused the cancellation of about 1,000 flights and disrupted travel plans for about 140,000 people.
A Gatwick spokesperson confirmed that the airport had bought the new equipment for “several millions” and that it provides “an equivalent level of capability” to the technology deployed by the military in December.
UK Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg is set to chair a Department of Transport meeting next week, which will be attended by the heads of all British airports, in an attempt to come up with a nationwide anti-drone strategy, reports said.
Concerns about drone disruption have been plaguing airports around the world and it is understood that some, including in the United States, have contacted Gatwick in an effort to learn about their experience.
One of the technologies deployed at Gatwick in December was the Israeli ‘Drone Dome’ system, designed by Rafael and to provide “effective airspace defense against hostile drones” aiming to perform “aerial attacks, collect intelligence, and other intimidating activities.” The company said there had been renewed interest in the product since the Gatwick incident.
The mysterious and still unsolved Christmas drone drama prompted various conspiracy theories about what was really going on. While some suspected alien involvement, others pointed the finger at Russia — and some suggested the government knew what was going on, but was keeping it from the public.
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