An arrivals board in the South Terminal building at Gatwick Airport, after the airport reopened to flights following its forced closure because of drone activity, in Gatwick, Britain, December 21, 2018.
(photo credit: TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS)
The British Army deployed advanced Israeli anti-drone technology after unmanned aerial vehicles caused the UK's second-busiest airport to completely cease operations for almost 36 hours.
Britain deployed the military and police snipers on Thursday to combat drones that were identified flying near to Gatwick Airport's runway, leading to the cancellation of over 800 flights and travel chaos for 120,000 passengers.
Specialist equipment deployed by the British Army to enable the reopening of the runway on Friday included the deployment of Rafael's Drone Dome system.
Britain became the first customer of Rafael's anti-drone systems in August when it purchased six Drone Domes, believed to be worth a combined $20m., to protect sensitive military installations and sites on which British armed forces are deployed.
Rafael describes the Drone Dome
as an "innovative end-to-end system designed to provide effective airspace defense against hostile drones used by terrorists and criminals to perform aerial attacks, collect intelligence, and other intimidating activities."
The system has 360-degree circular coverage and is designed to rapidly detect, track and neutralize drones classified as threats. The systems purchased by the British Army are not equipped with a laser-based beam to destroy the drones, but are capable of jamming radio frequencies to prevent the drone from being able to move.
A man and a woman were arrested near the airport at 10 p.m. on Friday night in connection with "criminal drone activity at Gatwick Airport," police said, adding that a range of tactics were still deployed to detect and mitigate further drone incursions.
Considering possible motives for the disruption, Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry told reporters "there is a whole spectrum of possibilities, from the really high-end criminal behavior all the way down to just individuals trying to be malicious."
Earlier this month, Argentinian authorities also relied on Israeli anti-drone technology to protect world leaders at the 2018 G20 Buenos Aires summit.
The Drone Guard system, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary ELTA Systems, blocked several suspicious drones approaching summit venues and hotels hosting foreign delegations. The system was also deployed in October to secure the opening ceremony of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics.
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