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10:35 AM, January 4, 2019
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Military Grade Anti-drone Equipment Ordered By Two London Airports
A drone in front of an aircraft (image: New Scientist)

London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports have ordered military grade anti-drone equipment following cancellation of several flights affecting over 140,000 passengers in Gatwick alone after drone sightings in mid-December last year.

The airports confirmed that the anti-drone defenses are worth “several million pounds,” without giving further details, PressTV reported Friday.

“While I can’t go into detail about exactly what we have, I can confirm this was an investment of several million pounds to ensure we are at an equivalent level to that provided by the Armed Forces”, Gatwick spokeswoman said in an emailed statement to PressTV.

Gatwick ordered anti-drone equipment worth nearly $6 million after drone sightings lead to the cancellation of nearly 1,000 flights and affected the travel of 140,000 passengers between December 19 and December 21, Financial Times reported Friday.

The military was drafted to deploy specialist equipment, enabling authorities to reassure the airport that it was safe for planes to take off and land.

According to an estimate by UK Aviation experts, 92 near collisions between drones and aircraft occurred last year, adding that the number of such incidents had increased by three times between 2015 and 2017, the PressTV report added further.

The incident revealed a vulnerability that is being scrutinized by security forces and airport operators worldwide.

Witnesses reported “numerous instances of illegal drone activity,” Financial Times quoted Sussex Police as saying.

Heathrow said it had ordered the equipment and was working closely with authorities and looking at relevant technology to combat the threat of drones to ensure safety of its passengers and colleagues, the PressTV report added further.

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