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Gatwick and Heathrow airports invest in anti-drone technology

Passengers walk through 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. REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Tom Horton, Press Association

Anti-drone technology will be deployed at Gatwick and Heathrow airports in response to disruption caused by the flying machines in the run-up to Christmas.

Both airports are investing millions in equipment to prevent future flight disruption, it was confirmed on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick said the airport had spent several million pounds on new defences after flights were grounded at the airport last month.

Between December 19 and 21, Gatwick Airport was repeatedly forced to close due to reported drone sightings, causing mass disruption to passengers, with about 1,000 flights affected.

The Army were brought in to help deal with the travel chaos and were not stood down until Wednesday.

A spokesman for Heathrow said they would also be investing millions in anti-drone technology, adding: "The safety of our passengers and colleagues remains our top priority.

"Working closely with relevant authorities including the Met Police, we are constantly looking at the best technologies that help remove the threat of drones."

The Israeli-developed Drone Dome system is believed to be among the technology used at the airport by the Army.

The anti-drone equipment can detect and jam communications between a drone and its operator and was deployed on a roof at Gatwick.

The system, which is said to have a range of several miles, uses four radars to give 360-degree detection in order to identify and track targets.

Gatwick and Heathrow have not disclosed the specific equipment they plan to deploy to counter the threat posed by drones.