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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

London airports buy drone busters after shutdown chaos

High tech solution after December fiasco grounded Gatwick flights for three days

epa07250600 (FILE) - An overhead view as barely a handful of passengers walk through the deserted concourse of Gatwick Airport 16 April 2010, as planes remain grounded all over the UK as volcanic ash from Iceland continues to drift over Northern Europe (reissued 27 December 2018). According to reports, French airport operator Vinci was sold 50.01 percent of stakes in Gatwick airport for 2.9 billion GBP (approx. 3.2bn euro or 3.7bn USD). The deal was closed just days after several drone spottings led to closures of Gatwick and flight chaos affecting thousands of passengers at one of Europe's busiest airports. EPA/GERRY PENNY *** Local Caption *** 02119880
epa07250600 (FILE) - An overhead view as barely a handful of passengers walk through the deserted concourse of Gatwick Airport 16 April 2010, as planes remain grounded all over the UK as volcanic ash from Iceland continues to drift over Northern Europe (reissued 27 December 2018). According to reports, French airport operator Vinci was sold 50.01 percent of stakes in Gatwick airport for 2.9 billion GBP (approx. 3.2bn euro or 3.7bn USD). The deal was closed just days after several drone spottings led to closures of Gatwick and flight chaos affecting thousands of passengers at one of Europe's busiest airports. EPA/GERRY PENNY *** Local Caption *** 02119880

London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports have ordered military-grade anti-drone defences worth "several million pounds" after drones caused three days of disruption at Gatwick last month..

"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", a Gatwick spokeswoman said.

Gatwick said the new equipment had been in place for over a week. The statement did not give further details.

Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, also said it had ordered the equipment. It said it was working closely with authorities including the police and looking at relevant technology to combat the threat of drones.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling met police, aviation and defence chiefs on Thursday to discuss the issue, according to The Times newspaper, which first reported the orders.

Drone sightings caused chaos last month at Gatwick, Britain's second busiest airport, disrupting the travel plans of tens of thousands of people in the run-up to Christmas.

The incident led to about 1,000 flight cancellations and affected the travel of 140,000 passengers. It revealed a vulnerability that is being scrutinised by security forces and airport operators worldwide.

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Read more:

Reward offered as hunt for UK airport drone saboteurs goes on

Gatwick airport: Two arrested after drone disruption

How do you stop a drone? Gatwick shutdown poses questions over aerial threat

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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. Media reports suggested the technology that was used to combat the drone disruption included the Israeli-designed Drone Dome system.

Security Minister Ben Wallace said late last month that Britain's security forces had detection systems that could be deployed throughout the country to combat the threat of drones.

Media reports suggested earlier on Thursday that the defence ministry had removed its anti-drone hardware from Gatwick.

Updated: January 4, 2019 02:56 PM

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